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Minister Coveney Congratulates Irish Racing Industry on Record-Breaking Week at Cheltenham

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine and Food, Simon Coveney TD, today congratulated Irish racehorse breeders, trainers and jockeys on their record-breaking performance at this week's Cheltenham festival, at which there were 15 Irish bred, 13 Irish trained and 22 Irish ridden winners.

Mr Coveney said that "this week demonstrated the strength of the Irish bloodstock industry and was a tremendous tribute to all those involved. I want to extend my congratulations to the individual breeders, trainers and jockeys and also to the various organisations who are so essential to this industry's success, including Horse Racing Ireland, the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, the Irish Racehorse Owners Association and the Irish Jockeys Association. In particular, I want to congratulate Willie Mullin, Ruby Walsh and Michael O'Leary on their respective achievements as leading trainer, leading jockey and winning-most owner at the 2011 Cheltenham festival."

The Minister said this week's success at Cheltenham "proved that this country is a true leader in the equine world and shows the value of the pursuit of excellence. As a country, we should take pride in our success and encouragement from our achievements. At a time of economic adversity, the success of Irish breeders, trainers and jockeys shows what we are capable of in this country, which has such a rich equine history and heritage. The Irish bloodstock industry is of enormous economic benefit to this country, providing 16,000 jobs and exports worth some €150 million to 36 countries in 2010. It was particularly noteworthy that the Irish-trained horses came from so many different counties, including Carlow, Kildare, Meath, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford, thus demonstrating the value of the industry throughout the country."

Mr Coveney said that "we have been playing to our strengths in the last four days and, as a country, we must continue to do so. Apart from horseracing and breeding, we have natural advantages in other areas, including agriculture and the agri-food sectors, and we must exploit those advantages and play to our strengths."

The Minister concluded that "he looked forward, with confidence, to the Irish horseracing industry building on this week's success, particularly in the forthcoming Fairyhouse and Punchestown festivals and throughout the 2011 flat-racing season."

Date Released: 18 March 2011