Save Pony Racing – We need funding to survive

We, the committee involved, all work full time and are volunteers involved in horse and pony racing for the kids. The superstar jockeys of the future represent Ireland.

Horse and pony racing is a passion handed down through generations.

95% of the top-class Irish jockeys started their careers at Horse and Pony Racing! This is their sport of choice. The list of our graduates is phenomenal and includes Colin Keane, Dylan Browne McMonagle, Oisin Murphy, Jack Kennedy, Darragh O Keeffe, Rachel Blackmore, Rossa Ryan, Chris Hayes, Brendan Powell, Billy Lee, Mikey Sheehy, Aiden Coleman, Ben Coen, Jake Coen, Andrew Slattery, Wesley Johnson, Ross Coakley, Aine O Connor, Luke Mc Ateer, Barry Geraghty, Nina Carberry, Paul and Jodie Townend, Sam Ewing, Jack and Danny Gilligan, Ryan Sexton, Denis Hogan, Gavin Ryan and so many others.

We are the grassroots and the bloodlines of the Irish racing industry and all segments of the equine sector who need staff that are skilled with horses.

Kids don’t even need to own their own ponies. Saving parents money and also making it an all-inclusive, zero exclusion, sport for children from all backgrounds and areas of Ireland. Owners and trainers travel the length and breadth of the country to provide opportunities and experience for aspiring jockeys. These young people also develop social skills, confidence, equine knowledge, equine welfare and health, responsibility, sportsmanship, assertiveness, go through the weigh tent, which is similar to what they will experience when they graduate to the track and are interviewed for public speaking purposes, helping to empower them to be media ready for the future.

Unfortunately, our insurance for the past season increased from five hundred and fifty euro per day to almost two thousand euro per day. Were it not for a once off contribution of twelve thousand five hundred euro from HRI we would have had to close down. This would be a last resort for us. Due to covid we were not allowed to race until July and ran eleven fixtures. A full season would see us stage thirty days racing right across the country.

Because of horse and pony racing, hundreds of horses are saved from an unknown faith once their days are the track are finished. Horses who are rated to highly, don’t grown enough, or cannot win in the very competitive sport of racing, retire and are sold and sometimes given for free, to people passionate and eager to get involved in horse and pony racing. These horses get a second chance at doing what they love but in a much less pressured way and the majority retire as family pets. We have many stories of same. Here is just one story of a pony who still thinks he’s a three-year-old, providing young jockeys with the safest introduction to horse and pony racing.

Without horse and pony racing, there would be no Irish racing industry and no Irish champion jockeys, and apprentices. A lot less trainers and very few supporters, as most wish to become involved in racehorses on the track once their children progress to race riding in Ireland and abroad.

We get ZERO funding, grants, and sponsorship. But need it now more than ever to survive. Surely this chosen sport, for these amazing kids, is as important as all the other sports recognised and funded in Ireland. They begin riding from eight years of age to usually sixteen or seventeen, then go through the process of becoming an apprentice to many of the top Irish trainers. Without horse and pony tracing, these children would miss the amazing opportunity to be involved in a sport they love, and see a future career in, and this can have a huge negative effect on their wellbeing and mental health.

Just imagine not being able to be involved in your sport of choice through no fault of your own!

This sport is vital for them, in their eyes, and they deserve it to be recognised, and supported, especially when it comes to funding for survival. All our young jockeys go to the RACE Academy to be assessed before our season starts. This give them the opportunity to ride retired racehorses and learn how to take safety and positive instructions form the wonderful trainers there. Then, some of the jockeys, outside of horse and pony racing, but who are studying at the RACE Academy, are welcome, and have, participated in horse and pony racing, before they take out their jockey licences. This has been a first-time experience for them, of what it will be like to ride in a race and follow all safety guidelines and owner’s instruction. So, it benefits these older children too.

Appreciate all and any support you can give us in getting this huge obstacle to horse and pony racing, past the winning post!

We need your help and support about getting the department of agriculture to recognise the massive and
immeasurable contribution horse and pony racing makes to the rural and Irish economy.
But most importantly, to the Irish and Worldwide racing industry.
We have produced and trained most of the top-class jockeys in Ireland and abroad.
Our young jockeys start racing on ponies and horses with us from the age of 8!

Most then progress onto the track. To race, successfully under rules.
On the track they ate supported by HRI (Horse racing Ireland) and IHRB (Turf club).
Some advance to become trainers, owners and agents.

All cutting their teeth at horse and pony racing.
We race North, South, including the world-famous Dingle Races and Midlands.
Follow our Midlands Horse and pony racing page on Facebook to see just how many of the top-class jockeys in equine
world came from us!!!


We all run horse and pony racing on a voluntary basis. We do this because it’s in our blood and we are so passionate about it. We get sponsorship from small, local, rural businesses.
But COVID has most of these businesses closed and struggling.

The Irish racing industry understands and agrees that without us, the Irish racing industry would struggle to get talented, competent jockeys. And the staff in general.

Our insurance alone was 24.500 in 2021, and now we have a policy in 2022, the only one we could get, for 70k!!!

We have been racing for nearly 200 years! We were also called flapping. We are all so proud and passionate about being able to give young boys and girls an opportunity to achieve their dreams of progressing onto the big equine world, in Ireland and abroad.

Racing is not just for the elite. It’s in our blood. If racing is the sport of Kings, then horse and pony racing is the sport of princes and princesses….and without those….no “monarchy” or elite sport would survive!


Please bring this to the Minister of agriculture and let him know we would gladly meet him to explain in detail exactly how beneficial and vital it is to support us and keep horse and pony racing alive.

Some of our many top-class jockeys include:

1. Rachel Blackmore
2. Barry Geraghty
3. A.P McCoy
4. Oisin Murphy
5. Jack Kennedy
6. Sean Levey
7. Tom Ryan
8. Dylan Browne Mc Monagle
9. Sam Ewing
10. Conor Orr
11. Oisin Orr
12. Paul Townend
13. Jody Townend
14. Philip Egan
15. David Egan
16. John Egan
17. Noel Meade
18. Ross Coakley
19. Rory Clearly
20. Ben Coen
21. Bryan Cooper
22. Nina Carberry
23. Paul Carberry
24. Rossa Ryan
25. Oli Stammers
26. Andrew Slattery
27. Rossa Ryan
28. Jake Coen
29. Jack and Danny Gilligan
30. Ryan Sexton
31. Mickey McGuane
32. Shane Fitzgerald
And many, many more.

This is a really short list but we have almost 500 jockeys who started with us and progressed to become some of the most successful jockeys, trainers, owners, stable staff, and agents in the world.

Here is a previous article from the Racing Post in 2021.

Ireland’s famed pony racing sector is facing a crisis. Rising costs, chiefly in the problematic area of insurance, threaten to create a precarious financial situation in advance of the 2022 season.

The pony racing community, comprising four regional associations who operate on an entirely voluntary basis, contributes enormously to the fabric of Irish racing. Yet save for a “one-off” donation of €12,500 from Horse Racing Ireland this year, the sport has never received a cent from the racing authorities. The situation is compounded by a bureaucratic anomaly, whereby the sector is deemed ineligible for government funding.

Pony racing is a vibrant sport, populated by the jockeys of the future. It’s well organised, provides all appropriate safety measures for its young participants, and maintains a high standard of equine welfare.

Don’t take my word for its significance as a nursery school for jockeys. To get a flavour, check out a YouTube video entitled Castleisland Races 2011.
It’s a charming piece: smiling kids, enthusiastic organisers, a day out for families in the Kerry town described by one of its most famous sons, legendary sports journalist Con Houlihan, as “not so much a town as a street between two fields”.

If there was no other context to the video, you would appreciate how the competitors radiate a mix of joy and quiet seriousness. But if you know your racing, it won’t be long before you start recognising names. Then, around one minute and 45 seconds in, you’re witness to a moment in sporting history. You’ve just watched Oisin Murphy ride his first winner.

In pre-Covid times, around 30 pony racing fixtures took place every year.

This year, an abridged season staged 11 meetings. The rough cost per meeting is €3,500. Field hire, insurance and the provision of an ambulance are the most expensive items.
HRI’s €12,500 grant acknowledged difficulties brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the official line is that the state-backed body is unable to provide sustained support to a sector essentially characterised as “unrecognised”.

However, this is an anachronistic hangover from an era in which so-called ‘flapping’ meetings were considered beyond the pale by the former Turf Club (IHRB). Things are different now, and industry leaders have no excuse for ignoring the sector’s role in career development.


Here is another short letter from one of our promising jockeys.

My name is Donagh Murphy. I am a jockey in Horse and Pony Racing. I have been riding in the races since I was 11, now I am 14. I think it is vital that we get funding for our insurance because we get zero funding from Horse Racing Ireland.

Horse and Pony Racing is a great education for children like me to learn about race riding if I want to be a jockey when I am older. It gives us great social skills to talk to new people such as owners and trainers. Racing gave me a great opportunity this summer to ride in races all over Ireland. I rode in Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Wexford. Pony racing was a great family day out for all my family as we live in Skibbereen in West Cork.

If we don’t get funding, young jockeys like me won’t get the opportunity to learn and improve our riding before we start horse racing. A lot of very successful jockeys come from pony racing such as Oisin Murphy, the three times English Champion Jockey, Colin Keane, this year’s Irish Champion Jockey, Dylan Browne McMonagle, this year’s Champion Apprentice Jockey, etc. All of this may not have happened if they didn’t have pony racing. We are relying on you to give us funding or else this wonderful sport will die out.

Yours sincerely,

Donagh Murphy
Jockey Age 14

Co Cork

Thank you for your support on this matter. Irish Horse and Pony racing is at a critical stage. Now more than ever, we need support and funding. We have been racing for over 200 years.

IHRB received 76 million in funding in 2020 alone. But we are not a part of their organisation, so we received zero!

Without horse and pony racing in Ireland, there would be NO Irish racing industry to enjoy.
We are the essential foundation for all young jockeys to learn the skills, and competencies to enable them to become top class, superstar jockeys in Ireland and abroad. Our jockeys start from the age of 8 and there is no upper age limit.

It’s a sport for male and females from all walks of life. Most transition, with all the necessary skills and experience, to Race tracks run by the Turf Club and IHRB.
Denis Egan from the Turf Club and Brian Kavanagh from IHRB, understand how important it is for us to survive. We have the hard training work done with young jockeys for them.

We are all volunteers with a passion for horse and pony racing. Our organisation is a starting ground for owners, trainers, jockeys and stable staff everywhere.
We are in the process of trying to set up a National Governing body, because as of now, we cannot apply for any sports grants or funding.

We are finding it hard to get sponsorship and raise money, especially since Covid closed down many businesses that help us. There are four committees in Ireland and this request is for us all. We are the Midlands horse and pony racing association, North West Racing committee, Southern racing committee and Dingle.

We need funding to survive. IHRB are saying they have no money to give us. They would like to support us, but say all their funding is earmarked for IHRB approved racing. We believe we should be able to receive funding from the Government, as this sport enriches the lives of all but especially young boys and girls who love horses and ponies and have a gift and skill with them. It’s a sport available to all, as you do not need to own your own pony. There are lots of people who give kids the mount on their ponies every Sunday.
We contribute to positive mental health and wellbeing through this amazing and inclusive sport. Our horses and ponies are all chipped, passported, and looked after superbly.

Our annual cost is:

1. Insurance
2. Field rentals
3. Ambulances
4. Vet
5. Track equipment
6. AGM meeting rooms
7. Pony Measuring
8. Chip machine
9. Two automatic weighing scales
10. Signage
11. Stationary
12. Video man
13. Commentator
14. Food for ALL volunteers
15. Laundry bill for numbers cloths washed weekly
16. Tractors (to pull cars that may get stuck in wet ground)
17. Transporter
18. And more …

We appreciate your urgent support on this matter.

But we have only 1k left in our account. Have a look at our Midlands horse and pony racing Facebook page, see to see how we operate.
Please support us. Thank you.

Kind Regards,

Antoinette Gallagher
On behalf of all committees.
087 9187639
[email protected]
[email protected]


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