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Minister Coveney highlights the importance of the Horse Sector to Ireland

Speaking at the National Hunt Awards in Limerick, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD highlighted the enormous contribution made by the bloodstock industry across the entire country noting it provides "16,000 jobs and exports worth some €150 million to 36 countries in 2010".

The Minister praised our recent success at the Cheltenham Festival with records being broken on all fronts by the Irish team "As well as the 13 Irish-trained winners of the 27 races at the festival, there were also 22 Irish-ridden winners and 15 Irish-bred horses. It was particularly noteworthy that the Irish-trained horses came from so many different counties, including Carlow, Kildare, Meath, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford, demonstrating the value of the industry throughout the country. Willie Mullins was the leading trainer, Ruby Walsh the leading rider and Michael O'Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud the leading owner of the meeting. It is an honour for me to be associated with an industry that continues to excel and set standards in the racing world", said Minister Coveney. 

The Minister said that "our pre-eminence on the world stage was emphasised by the inclusion of the visit to the Irish National stud in the Queen’s itinerary.  Our international standing can only be further enhanced by this honour". 

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. The Minister also wished jockey Peter Toole a speedy recovery from the injuries he sustained recently at Aintree. 

The Minister continued "I want to extend my congratulations to the individual breeders, trainers and jockeys and also to the various organizations 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 and the Turf club". 

Minister Coveney concluded by thanking the Stewards of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee for inviting him here to speak at the awards evening and giving him an opportunity to congratulate everybody involved in the success story 2010/2011.

Date Released: 22 May 2011