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Northern Ireland racing is facing a financial crisis

By Frank Brownlow

Northern Ireland's two racecourses could be gone within five years, a leading figure has warned.

Mike Todd, General Manager of Down Royal racecourse - Downpatrick is Ulster's other track - said that racing in this country hinges on the outcome of a crucial consultation with the government as funding for the sport reaches crisis point.

"The outcome of the consultation process will determine whether there will be horseracing in Northern Ireland in five years' time," he warned.

Todd's stark prediction comes after governing body Horse Racing Ireland provided €150,000 in emergency funding to ensure prize-money at both tracks remained above HRI minimum levels.

Racing in Northern Ireland does not receive government funding, nor is there a levy in place.

"Both tracks are non-profit taking. We're here for the benefit of the sport and are extremely grateful to HRI for stepping in and helping out with this contribution," Todd said.

"We're losing money and the situation is dire, in all honesty. All we're asking for is the bookmakers to pay a fair and equitable amount.

"We've lobbied the government for 18 months, asking them to do something about the amount of bookmakers' contributions.

"Now we're hoping common sense will prevail when the green paper is published.

"None of the boards of the tracks get dividends, we work on a voluntary basis.

"This is a very serious position," Todd added.

Down Royal chairman Jim Nicholson, Northern Ireland's representative on the board of HRI, made the request to the organisation for emergency funding.

AP’s back for more

Tony McCoy has stressed that there will be no comeback despite agreeing to ride in a charity race at Doncaster.

The Ulster great retired at the end of April after winning a 20th successive jump jockey title.

McCoy, who turned 41 last month, has a total of 4,348 winners to his name, more than any other jockey. He will ride in the Leger Legends race at Doncaster on September 9.

“I got bullied into it by (organiser and former trainer) Jack Berry!” revealed McCoy.

“I have no idea who I will be riding against and I had no desire to do it at all but it is in a good cause and I am doing it for Jack, nobody else.”

McCoy added: “I have been riding out so I hope fitness won’t be a problem but it will be once and once only.”

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