Horse Racing (Amendment Bill) - Call for Evidence

Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs

The Assembly Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs wants to hear your views

In exercising its statutory functions, the Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (AERA) is currently scrutinising the Horse Racing (Amendment) Bill.

The Bill was formally introduced to the Assembly on 13 April 2021 and, following its second reading on 26 April 2021, was referred to the AERA Committee for its Committee Stage.



The Horse Racing (Amendment) Bill that has recently come before the Northern Ireland (NI) Assembly proposes changes to the Horse Racing (Northern Ireland) Order 1990 that will enable the resumption of payments from the Horse Racing Fund ("the Fund") to racecourses operating at Down Royal and Downpatrick.

The Horse Racing (Northern Ireland) Order 1990 provides the legislative basis from which payments can be made from the Fund.

The Fund is financed via annual charges made to bookkeeping companies operating in Northern Ireland on the basis that some of their income is inextricably linked to placement of bets on horseracing.

Since 1990 payments have been made on an annual basis from the Fund to Downpatrick and Down Royal to assist with prize money for races, costs associated with technical and personnel services on race days and interventions to ensure the safety of spectators at race meetings or the proper conduct of racing.

However, the 1990 Order specifically names the “Governor and Freeman of the Corporation of Horse Breeders, (the Corporation)” as the beneficiary owner of Down Royal. The Corporation no longer has ownership of Down Royal racecourse and therefore the current operator has been unable to receive Fund payments since 2019.

Downpatrick racecourse has also been impacted as payments were suspended while the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs sought clarity on whether continued payment to one racecourse could have presented “state aid” challenges.


Why we are consulting

As part of the NI Assembly’s normal legislative processes, the Horse Racing (Amendment) Bill has been referred to the AERA Committee for scrutiny and evaluation.  

The Committee is seeking views from stakeholders on the objectives, proposals and potential consequences of the Bill.

Your views will help to inform the AERA Committee’s consideration of the Horse Racing (Amendment) Bill and any recommendations it may suggest as the Bill moves to the next stage of the legislative process. 


Give us your views

If you would like to request an alternative format to give comments, please contact the Committee Clerk at the following email address:

Please note that the deadline for your responses is Friday 20 August 2021



If you have any questions, please contact the AERA Committee:


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