After 20 years at the helm of Irish racing, Brian Kavanagh stepped down as chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) last Friday. During his tenure Kavanagh witnessed plenty of ups and downs, booms and recessions, but overall his time in office will be looked upon as a golden period for Irish racing.

Ever since the creation of Horse Racing Ireland in 2000, the various Governments of the day have looked favourably on the industry and appreciated that the annual grant (now over €90m) is money well spent as it fuels a billion euro business, with thousands of jobs in rural areas, tourism, fortunes in direct foreign investment and megabucks in exports. We won’t even mention the betting tax income as, to be fair, most betting in Ireland is actually on British racing.