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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Kildare trainers appeal to HRI in fight to stop huge rates increase

Michael Grassick: 'We're taking the proposed rates change very seriously'
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The Irish Racehorse Trainers Association is to ask Horse Racing Ireland to intervene with government to try to reverse Kildare County Council's decision to vastly increase the rates valuations on property, including training yards, in the county.

Most trainers have recently received letters from the council informing them their properties have been re-categorised into the leisure sector, having been previously been recognised as belonging to the agriculture division.

Michael Grassick, chief executive of the IRTA, said yesterday: "We're taking the proposed change in valuations and rates very seriously and we're hoping HRI will help us by voicing our concerns to the government.

"The new rates are due to come into effect next year and, as matters stand, most trainers in the Couty Kildare area are going to feel the effects in a big way.

Minimum increase is 100 per cent

"I'm sure other counties will be in a similar situation and the impact will have serious implications for trainers if this goes ahead."

According to Grassick, the minimum increase being sought is in the region of 100 per cent, while some of the proposed increases are considerably higher.

He said: "In some cases the new valuations are up to nine times greater than what they were and, for obvious reasons, we intend to do everything we can for a rethink and a return to the agriculture sector.

"We have spoken to some of our local TDs – Martin Heydon, a Fine Gael TD for the area, and to Fianna Fail TD Fiona O'Loughlin, who brought the matter up in the Dail on Thursday. Why trainers properties have been moved into the leisure category, we don't know.

'Yards far from full'

"The majority of yards on the Curragh are far from full and many of them have less than 50 per cent occupancy, but no allowance is being made for yards that might be only 25 per cent or 50 per cent full.

"Everyone realises many trainers are struggling with costs and they will find it extremely difficult to survive if these re-valuations are allowed to go ahead."

Highlighting another financial hike being faced by Currragh trainers, Grassick added: "Because of the new company that now owns the Curragh racecourse and training grounds, trainers a facing a VAT rate of nine per cent for the use of the training grounds and gallops."

I'm sure other counties will be in a similar situation and the impact will have serious implications for trainers if this goes ahead
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