The Association of Irish Racehorse Owners, Promotes and Protects the Interests of Irish Racehorse Owners.

Your Trainer

Selecting A Trainer

There is a wealth of choice for the Irish racehorse owner with a large number of licensed trainers in Ireland today. Renowned as a nation of horsemen, the quality of Irish trainer is the envy of racing industries throughout the world. Selecting a trainer for your horse is a very important personal decision
and may dictate future success. We suggest that owners consider the following factors before coming to a final decision……

Budget – On average, owners can expect to pay around €20,000 per year in training fees and other costs but like all services these rates can vary from one trainer to the next. We recommend you enquire as to exactly what is included and what extras you may expect along the way. Remember, your horse will not be in training 12 months a year and perhaps you should discuss where the horse will spend its time out of training if you do not have the facilities to care for it. Most trainers will be happy to organize grazing for horses out of training and this will cost a nominal fee.

Location – Pre-arranged visits to the yard to watch your horse on the gallops can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of ownership and therefore location may be an important factor in your decision.

Personal Choice - The trainer is ultimately responsible for caring for your horse and therefore it is important that you respect and trust his/her decision and advice. Some owners choose larger more established trainers because of their proven track record while others choose up and
coming trainers with smaller yards who can dedicate more time and energy to you and your horse. Although a majority of trainers in Ireland hold “dual purpose” licenses (meaning they train horses for both flat and national hunt) they tend to specialise in one discipline. At this early stage it would be worthwhile discussing what type of horse you want, the budget you have and what timescale you are working to. We suggest you create a short list of trainers and contact them to arrange a yard visit.
Although you may not consider yourself an expert, your opinion of the setting and facilities on offer is valid. Nowadays almost all yards have an all weather gallop or access to one locally. Automated horse walkers have also become a constant feature and some yards go as far as swimming pools, hydrotherapy units and drying rooms for the horses. Again, you need to use your discretion and common sense because even the most modern state of the art equipment is useless unless the proper training knowledge is applied. Please consult the HRI Trainer Directory on for further information.

Training agreement – When you meet a potential trainer you should discuss what expenses are likely to arise throughout the year. Many of these costs will be standard, others non-applicable and the remainder unforeseeable. However, you should always be prepared should these additional costs arise. Once you have appointed a trainer we recommend drawing up a written document to establishthe terms and conditions of the training agreement. We suggest you discuss the following:

Trainer Duties

Authority To Act – In addition to the day to day care involved such as feeding, stabling and exercising your horse, the trainer is also responsible for the administration aspect of the role. Section 2 of the Owner Registration Form, known as the Authority to Act, requires the owner to appoint a trainer to carry out various administration procedures on their behalf. Trainers have daily contact with the registrations and entries departments in HRI to carry out the following:

• HRI operate a five day entry system incorporating three stages: Entries, weights and declarations.
• Generally horses are entered 5 days in advance of a fixture.
• At 11.30, the day after entries have closed the “weights” are released. At this stage you can determine whether your horse is liable in this race and if it is what ballot number has been allocated. The higher the ballot number the less chance of the horse getting a run.
• Declarations close at 10 am the day before the fixture or on Friday should the fixture fall on a Sunday. Your trainer will make to Horse Racing Ireland.

Jockey Bookings - Usually the trainer decides what jockey will ride the horse. In general most yards have a stable jockey attached to the yard who will ride a majority of the horses. However, please do not hesitate to discuss the jockey bookings with your trainer. The jockeys riding fee will automatically be deducted from your HRI account and lodged into the jockeys HRI account.

Returning horses in and out of training - This is basically notifying HRI that the horse is in training in his/her yard and entries will be made in the future. Returning out means that the horse has left the yard because the horse is either sold, in foal, injured, dead or perhaps is out on grass and therefore entries will not be made in the near future.

Naming applications – prior to applying for a name registration, all horses should be checked against the markings given in their passport to verify identification. Owners should supply the trainer, in writing, with at least three possible names and they can do the rest on their behalf.

Sale with engagements – in the case whereby a horse, holding an entry or “engagement”, is sold a trainer can sign a Sale with Engagements Form transferring the animal and its engagement from the original owner to the current owner. The trainer must have authority from all parties involved.

Owner/Trainer Communication

All horses are individuals and may not show great capability straight away. Some will have immediate potential but others may take time to come to hand and unfortunately some will never have race standard ability. Your trainer should be able to indicate a horse’s potential after a couple of months. Although you may not get the feedback you hope for, it is important that you take your trainer’s advice on board as this is what they are being paid to do. The harsh reality of racing is that some horses will never make it to the track due to injury. Although extremely disappointing for all connections it is a possibility to bear in mind.

Most trainers are delighted to welcome you to the yard to see the horses exercising provided the visit is pre-arranged. Owners should receive regular updates from the trainer and in the case of syndicates it is extremely important that the agent passes this information onto the other members. Remember, trainers will make every effort and take every precaution to keep your horse safe and healthy but unfortunately some cases of injury or disease are unavoidable.

Baloting – At certain times of the year and in particular types of races the number of horses entered in a race may exceed the imposed safety limit. In this case there is a ballot. Horses are balloted from races according to a sequence of protection levels. If your horse is balloted from a race you will not be charged. For further information, consult your trainer, a member of the entries and declarations department at HRI or online at where you can view the HRI Directives Booklet 2008.