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HRI Adopt Wait And See Attitude To Two-Mile-Borris Racecourse Project

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) intend to adopt a “wait-and-see” attitude towards plans for building a new racecourse at Two-Mile-Borris, as part of a €460 million Casino project, known as the Tipperary Venue.  North Tipperary County Council last week approved plans for this controversial project, which would include a 6,000-square metre casino and a 500 bedroom hotel.

Included in these plans also is a new racecourse near the North Tipperary village and project spokesman, Richard Quirke, said that getting the green light to proceed with a new race track would result in the closing of the present Thurles racecourse.

But the HRI admitted last week that the idea does raise some issues for horse racing’s current ruling body. HRI chief’s including executive Brian Kavanagh have met representatives of this new business venture last year and there are tentative plans to meet again to further discuss this project.

Brian Kavanagh said recently that he was supportive of the plan’s ambitions. “They are not looking for funding and viewing the project overall, you would have to be supportive, when someone comes to you, in such circumstances, wanting to build a racecourse as is now proposed. “We will sit down with them again, but the venture does raise quite a lot of issues. We have to be supportive of such ambition but we will see what will happen,” added Mr Kavanagh.

It will all be hard for 3 greyhound tracks within a 35 mile radius of this proposed new venture to survive in the present climate in Tipperary. Thurles dog track has been upgraded and Clonmel dog track has architect drawings on display for their new track. There is a also a new dog track in Limerick and logic would indicate that at least two of these tracks would have to bow out to this new project.

Horse Racing Ireland has been under serious pressure in the past couple of years, due mainly to the present financial crisis and it’s prize money levels have been slashed with racing fixtures also cut. Matters such as the design of any future new track could also be a subject of concern for the racing body. However several high-profile racing figures appear publicly to support the new project, including trainers Edward O’Grady, Aidan O’Brien and Magnier’s Coolmore Stud.

An Taisce, the heritage body, objected to the casino proposal and could yet appeal against North Tipperary County Council’s sanctioned approval, to An Bord Pleanála.

A major change to the present gaming laws would also be required for the proposed new casino to become licenced and the results of a government review on those laws is expected soon, which if positive would possibly ensure local Independent party support for the government’s forthcoming budget.

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