The French: targeting Irish stallions

Higher prize pots in other countries are putting Ireland's €1.1bn thoroughbred industry in danger, according to the chairman of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, Joe Foley.

"We have lost our competitive edge [with the end of the stallion tax exemption] in Europe and the danger for our industry is that there is going to be a flow of stallions to France because of its owners, and the brood mares and owners will follow," he said.

He was speaking following the launch of a French advertisement which draws a direct comparison between the returns available for owners in Ireland and France. The French prize pot, it points out, is €194m including owner premiums, with just 3% contributed by owners compared to the Irish pot of €60m with a 30% owner contribution.

The cost recovery projection per horse run in France is twice that in Ireland at 56%, it goes on. The French pot is so large because all revenue from the country's sole betting agency, Pari-Mutuel, goes back to the industry. Irish prize money could be increased if the 1% betting levy was applied to internet betting, said Foley.

However, the CEO of Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, Michael O'Hagan, said that if you stripped the owner premiums out of the French prize pot it would look very similar to its Irish counterpart. The Irish thoroughbred industry competes at the highest level internationally, he said, with three out of the top five horses in the world last year bred here.

Meanwhile, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing saw its grant from Horse Racing Ireland increase by €55,000 last year to €900,000. However, this was partly offset by a fall in its industry contribution which came in at €736,166 compared to last year's €774,138.