Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is a commercial state body established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001, and is responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry.
The Curragh Racecourse is the premier flat racing venue in Ireland and is recognised globally as one of the great international courses. There was a need to complete a redevelopment as the previous facilities were not of the standard now expected of a sporting venue of such national importance and international status.
In October 2015, my predecessor and the then Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, granted permission for Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) to participate in a new Curragh company (CRL Ltd) which would undertake the development and operation of the racecourse. It should be noted that HRI, the Turf Club and a group of 6 founding investors each hold one third of the voting shares of the company as per the Shareholders Agreement.
The initial proposed cost of the project was circa €65m, prior to the project being put to tender. The contracted cost was €72.3m and the final cost is €81.5 million. HRI provided €36.5m of the final cost which was drawn from the Horse and Greyhound Fund; no additional funding was provided by the exchequer for this project. A further €40.3 million was provided by private investors and the balance was funded from bank loans obtained by Curragh Racecourse Ltd.
The final cost overrun was greater than originally estimated due to construction inflation, environmental requirements, reconfiguration of the parade ring, and design complications with certain aspects of the building, including the roof.