Increased transparency in the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s (IHRB) operations is one of several priorities for the organisation over the next four years, according to CEO Darragh O’Loughlin, after a new IHRB strategy for 2024-2027 was launched recently.
The regulator has outlined plans under five strategic pillars to enhance its welfare programmes for horses and humans in the industry, as well as attempting to improve consistency in terms of stewarding.
There is an aim to “continue to refine the equine anti-doping programme and implement the Suann report recommendations”, while monthly integrity statistics are set to be published in a bid to “increase visibility and understanding” of its regulatory activities.
In a shift from previous practice, future disciplinary hearings will be opened to the media at some stage in 2024 as the IHRB refines its investigation process “to ensure robust and efficient case management”.
O’Loughlin said: “We want to be more transparent in terms of letting people see what we do. As part of this strategy, we will be moving towards holding our referral and appeal hearings in public by opening them up to the media.
“Obviously if there are sensitive matters and health matters being discussed, there can be an application to hold those hearings in private, but, by default, they are reported on in the press as open hearings. That additional transparency will add greater understanding of how these processes work.”
On whether the IHRB will need additional funding to execute the wider strategic plan, O’Loughlin said: “This is an ambitious strategy. The ongoing support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and of Horse Racing Ireland will be critical to the success of the plan. Of course, there are elements of this plan that will require additional investment.”
On the wider implementation of the plan, he added: “It will be an approach of uncompromising integrity, relentlessly focusing on safety and welfare, as well as continual professionalism in our approach so we are the best racing regulator that we can be.
“I hold myself to high standards and I hold the team to high standards. I expect we all do the same between each other. We have six clear values: professionalism, integrity, excellence, respect, accountability and safety. This is an organisation that will be expected to live up to those values on an ongoing basis. We have an obligation to make this an organisation we’re proud to work for because I think this is a place we should be proud to work for.”