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Coveney joins in celebrations of "Tremendous Irish Success Story"

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today recognised the outstanding success of Irish owners, trainers and jockeys at the recent Cheltenham Festival when he made presentations to the leading owner, trainer and jockey during a special celebration at today's meeting at Fairyhouse.

Minister Coveney said "Cheltenham 2011 will live long in the memories of Irish sportspeople and all of those associated with the Irish bloodstock industry. It was not alone an extraordinary achievement, but a tremendous advertisement for the Irish bloodstock industry.

We had a record 13 Irish trained winners at Cheltenham this year. Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh and Gigginstown House Stud won the leading trainer, jockey and owner titles respectively. In addition, there were 15 Irish bred winners overall and 22 Irish ridden winners. This shows the enduring strength and depth of the sport in Ireland, our unique affinity with the horse and our indigenous skills in every area of the thoroughbred industry.

It gives me great pleasure to be here today to celebrate a tremendous Irish success story and to recognise those who made such a contribution to this year's success and, through them, all those without whom this level of success would not be possible. Today is a true celebration of an important, indigenous industry that provides 16,000 jobs, mostly in rural Ireland, and created exports worth some €150 million to 36 countries last year."

The Minister praised the successes enjoyed by the Irish breeders, owners, trainers and jockeys on the flat as well as in national hunt and acknowledged the achievement of Tony McCoy who was voted Sports Personality of the Year in the UK in 2010, which the Minister described as "a long overdue recognition of a great Irish sportsman and the most-winning national hunt jockey in racing history and somebody who has been champion jockey every year since he went to the UK." The Minister also wished jockey Peter Toole a speedy recovery from the injuries he sustained recently at  Aintree.

Minister Coveney confirmed that "legislation is being prepared by the Minister for Finance to extend betting duty to all forms of betting with a view to securing a sustainable form of support for this very important industry. This is something about which I have already met the Department of Finance and am anxious to see enacted as soon as possible."

Referring to the Report of the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities (the McCarthy Report), the Minister said that "the report's recommendations will have to be carefully considered by Government before decisions are taken and I look forward to those deliberations starting immediately. Obviously, I have a particular interest in the recommendations relating to those agencies operating under my own Department's aegis, including those relating to the possible disposal of assets owned by HRI."

Minister Coveney concluded by saying that "Easter at Fairyhouse is such a huge part of the Irish Racing Calendar. I congratulate all those associated with making this such a successful and enjoyable meeting and I wish all those associated with the sector continued success in the future and, in particular, I wish all those participating in tomorrow’s Grand National every luck."

Date Released: 24 April 2011