Paul Murphy TD: End state funding to horse racing

27 May

5 fatalities at punchestown copy

Paul Murphy TD has asked if the government will consider “ending State funding to Horse Racing Ireland in view of the growing number of horse deaths”.

The call from Deputy Murphy (RISE-Solidarity, Dublin South West) follows the shocking deaths of five horses at this year’s Punchestown festival in Kildare.

Further to a 11th May Dail Question to the Minister for Agriculture, a Horse Racing Ireland spokesperson told Deputy Murphy: “I can confirm that there were five fatalities during the recent Punchestown festival [27 April – 1 May 2021]. The losses are regrettable because the safety of riders and horses is uppermost in the preparation of every racecourse.”

In his Dail Question, Deputy Murphy asked Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue “if an investigation will be carried out into the high level of fatalities”.

However, addressing this, the HRI spokesperson said that “every big festival is subject to a post-event review but there is no investigation planned specifically into the fatalities at Punchestown”.

There was shock and disgust at the deaths during the festival, held at the Kildare Foxhunt’s Punchestown racecourse.

As previously reported by ICABS, 10-year-old Irish horse Monbeg Notorious suffered an injury during the “Colm Quinn BMW Group Handicap Chase” which saw horses being whipped and ridden over 22 fences across a 3.8 mile course.

A race report detailed that the horse “pulled up injured” after the 14th fence during the race on Saturday 1st May. According to Animal Welfare Watch, Monbeg Notorious lost his life.

There were more horrible scenes from Punchestown the previous day when 8-year-old Irish horse “Ificudiwud” suffered a broken leg during a race sponsored by EMS Copiers.

An IrishRacing report outlined that the horse “became injured” approaching a fence during the 2.6 mile race. Horrific race footage broadcast on RTE showed the injured horse jumping the fence, unseating the jockey and running on with a broken back leg dangling.

On Thursday, 29 April, at the Punchestown event there were two fatalities, including 7-year-old Irish horse Polished Steel who suffered an horrendous fall during the Handicap Chase race

10-year-old French horse “Some Neck” was also killed that day. The horse “slipped after the final fence” during the “Mongey Communications La Touche Cup Cross Country Chase” race.

The death was confirmed in the Sun newspaper which reported: “Tragedy as racehorse Some Neck dies following disastrous mid-race mix-up at Punchestown Festival.”

On Tuesday, the first day of the festival, a horse named Youcannotbeserious somersaulted through the air at a jump and fell heavily onto the ground. He was seen struggling to get back on his feet

A tweet from IrishRacing acknowledged that 9-year-old Youcannotbeserious was “fatally injured in his fall”.

The fall occurred during a foxhunt-sponsored 3-mile steeplechase race – the “Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Chase For The Ladies Perpetual Cup”.

The Kildare Hunt, based at Punchestown, is affiliated to the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association.

In another sickening scene earlier that day, foxhunters on horseback – along with a pack of hunting hounds – were filmed on the racecourse.

In a festival booklet, the CEO of Punchestown said he would “like to take this opportunity to thank the Kildare Hunt club who have generously sponsored the race”. The hunt was listed in a sponsors page alongside Land Rover, Killashee Hotel, eComm Merchant Solutions, Dooley Insurance Group and others.

The booklet included a full page “Brief history of Kildare Hunt Club” which detailed how in the 1840s, “members of the Kildare Hunt decided to buy the lands at Punchestown – those lands today are still held in trust by the trustees of the Kildare Hunt club for the use and promotion of all equestrian sports.” It added that the Punchestown Festival “is a very important week for the Kildare Hunt club and its management team at Punchestown”

The Punchestown deaths are the latest in a growing list of horse racing fatalities.

Last month at Tramore racecourse, 11-year-old Irish horse Articulum lost his life. The Racing Post reported that the horse “suffered a fatal injury after the last fence” during the race on 18 April Footage of the race shows the horse hitting the fence and limping on the other side, with the race commentator saying that the doomed horse “blundered and unseated [jockey] Kevin Brouder”. See race footage at

Fatalities were also recorded at the Leopardstown Christmas racing festival. 5-year-old Annie Kate was killed following an injury sustained after she “stumbled badly and unseated rider”. According to a report on, the horse “broke down” during the 2-mile “Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle”. An image posted on the Animal Welfare Watch Facebook page shows the injured horse along with message: “12:30 Leopardstown. R.I.P Annie Kate. 5 years old.”

A second horse died at Leopardstown. 5-year-old Reality Cheque suffered a “fatal injury in the closing stages” and was destroyed. The fall occurred during the “Paddy Power Flat One” race on day two of the festival

Many Irish horses have also died at races in the UK. So far this year, at least 40 have lost their lives there.

Horse racing is supported by massive amounts of taxpayers’ money via the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund. Since 2001, Horse Racing Ireland has received €1,169,000,000 (€1.169 Billion) of taxpayers’ money. This includes a €76.8 million grant for 2021. Much of the money handed over to HRI ends up as prize money in the pockets of wealthy horse owners and trainers.

Join the growing calls on the Irish Government to stop the funding.


Don’t bet on racing or attend racing events.

Since 2001, the Irish Government has granted €1,461,991,713 – €1.46 BILLION – of scarce public funds to horse and greyhound racing. That’s €1,169 million for horse racing and €292 million for greyhound racing.

Contact Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and demand an end to state funding to these two gambling activities which cause suffering and death to animals, fuel problem gambling and damage Ireland’s international image. Tell them to redirect the funds to the many deserving charities, health/homeless/environmental groups, sports clubs, animal rescue centres, etc crying out for funding.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin
Phone: +353 (0)1–618 4350 or +353 (0)21-432 0088

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar
Telephone: +353 (0)1-640 3133
Tweet to:

Paschal Donohoe TD
Minister for Finance
Tel: 01 6045810
Tweet to @Paschald

(If you have time, please write your own personal letter)

Dear Deputy,

I am writing to urge you to please oppose any further funding to horse and greyhound racing.

The Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund has channelled €1,461,991,713 of scarce public funds into the gambling activities over the past two decades.

Much of the money given to horse racing ends up as prize money in the pockets of wealthy horse owners and trainers, while the funding for greyhound racing continues despite revelations about obscene cruelty and killing and calls for a ban.

If you saw the “RTE Investigates: Greyhounds running for their lives” documentary, you will understand why there should be absolutely no support given to this shameful industry. The programme revealed that around 6,000 greyhounds are killed every year simply because they are not fast enough to win. We were shown horrifying scenes of greyhounds being delivered to knackeries to be shot in the head. One dog was seen writhing on the ground in agony as his merciless owner drove away

The programme also highlighted the illegal practice of doping dogs to make them run faster or slower to influence the outcomes of races. Also shown were greyhounds with their ears chopped off or burned with acid (to remove identity tattoos before being dumped) and the hellholes that await Irish greyhounds exported to China and Pakistan.

A RED C opinion poll commissioned by the Irish Council Against Blood Sports and Greyhound Action Ireland shows that two out of every three Irish adults want the government to stop funding greyhound racing [66% Agree, 16% Disagree, 18% Don’t Know] Petitions urging the government to stop the funding have attracted over 400,000 signatures.

It is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE that public funds have been pumped into horse and greyhound racing. It is time for this to be stopped and for the money to be redirected to the many deserving charities, health/homeless/environmental groups, sports clubs, animal rescue centres, etc crying out for funding.

Thank you. I look forward to your positive response.

Yours sincerely,


Email the letter to all Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Green Party, Sinn Fein and Labour Party TDs.

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Green Party TDs;;;;;;;;;;;

Sinn Fein TDs;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Labour Party TDs;;;;;

Irish Government grants to horse racing

2001 €47,110,330
2002 €54,452,651
2003 €51,348,800
2004 €53,531,200
2005 €54,680,000
2006 €56,047,000
2007 €58,539,000
2008 €61,028,800
2009 €54,502,000
2010 €47,411,200
2011 €45,830,000
2012 €45,032,000
2013 €44,016,000
2014 €43,376,000
2015 €54,400,000
2016 €59,200,000
2017 €64,000,000
2018 €64,000,000
2019 €67,200,000
2020 €67,200,000
2021 €76,800,000

Total: €1,169 Million (€1.169 Billion)

Irish Government grants to greyhound racing

2001 €11,777,583
2002 €13,613,163
2003 €12,837,200
2004 €13,382,800
2005 €13,670,000
2006 €14,012,000
2007 €14,572,000
2008 €15,257,000
2009 €13,625,600
2010 €11,852,800
2011 €11,460,000
2012 €11,258,000
2013 €11,004,000
2014 €10,844,000
2015 €13,600,000
2016 €14,800,000
2017 €16,000,000
2018 €16,000,000
2019 €16,800,000
2020 €16,800,000
2021 €19,200,000

Total: €292 Million (€0.292 Billion)
Source: Department of Agriculture

It’s time for the government to respect the wishes of the majority and ban cruel foxhunting.

Contact the leaders of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Green Party, Sinn Fein and the Labour Party to tell them that you want foxhunting and all bloodsports banned.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin
Leader, Fianna Fail
Phone: +353 (0)1–618 4350 or +353 (0)21-432 0088

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar
Leader, Fine Gael
Telephone: +353 (0)1-704 3630 OR +353 (0)1-640 3133
Tweet to:

Eamon Ryan
Leader, Green Party
Tel: 01 618 3894

Mary Lou McDonald TD
Leader, Sinn Fein
Tel: (01) 727 7102

Alan Kelly TD
Leader, Labour Party
Tel: 067 34190

Please sign and share the petitions

Ban Blood Sports in Ireland

Ireland – Ban cruel hare coursing

Please support our campaign with a donation

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