Michael Blake hails ‘forward thinking’ move by Horse Sport Ireland to new headquarters at National Training Centre
- 11 February 2021, 18:55
Irish Show Jumping team manager Michael Blake has voiced his backing for Horse Sport Ireland’s upcoming move to a new headquarters at Greenogue Equestrian in Co Dublin.
Horse Sport Ireland will centre its programmes in the fantastic newly-built facility at Greenogue from March 2021 for all equestrian sports, in a move that does not require any upfront capital funding from HSI or the state.
Michael Blake (pictured) said:
“The move by Horse Sport Ireland to it’s new permanent home in Greenogue is a forward thinking initiative that will go a long way towards ensuring excellent facilities for our up-and-coming riders. This facility is an encouraging move forward towards having a centre of excellence that can benefit, breeders, producers and riders alike. It is an excellent step in the right direction for the industry as a whole.”
Greenogue has high quality stabling for 55 horses, indoor and outdoor arenas with high quality surfaces, as well as walkers, wash bays and facilities for all types of equine services. Outdoors it has an impressive derby course and 30 acres of paddocks, a large barn for storage, as well as a large car park to accommodate horse boxes and lorries. It is located just off the M7 (Newcastle/Rathcoole exit) which makes it very accessible for visitors from all parts of Ireland, north and south, as well as people coming from Dublin airport.
It is planned that a new office block will also be built in the next year which, in addition to housing HSI staff in a suitable working environment, will have meeting rooms, and research and teaching facilities to allow HSI to expand the range of services that we can offer to the equestrian industry. This headquarters, together with all the equestrian facilities, will allow HSI to become a one-stop-shop for the Irish Sport Horse industry where all aspects of our services can be managed and provided in one place.
Irish Eventing Team Manager Sally Corscadden last week also commented on how the move to Greenogue will be of huge benefit and said:.
“In this Olympic year it is really great to have a facility like Greenogue to use. For our Youth teams also it is really important. It has everything you need for an Eventing team to train – lots of stables, great facilities and good access for final team training before the horses leave from the nearby Dublin Port. I think this is something that can only benefit our High Performance Eventing teams.”
This idea — to create a national training and breeding centre for the industry — has been a key objective of Horse Sport Ireland since its foundation and has been repeated in every strategic plan since 2009 including the current one which was launched in 2019. It was also a recommendation of Reaching New Heights, an influential report on the Irish Horse Sport Industry published in 2018.
The Greenogue site does not require upfront capital funding from HSI or the state. All other options reviewed would have required a large amount of upfront capital which would be very difficult to raise, heretofore unavailable, as well as resulting in significant time delay as well as the associated additional development risks.
Prof. Mary Lambkin Coyle, acting Chairperson of HSI, explained:
“The main obstacle to creating such a headquarters up to now has been lack of funding. HSI has funding to run its core business but all of this is needed to fund its breeding incentives and sponsorship of equestrian sports activities. The organisation has never had access to capital funding to allow it to fund the development of a major piece of infrastructure such as a national training centre or headquarters. In the absence of such funding, HSI provided the best service it could from its rented offices in Millennium Park, Naas.
“The new board of HSI, put in place in September 2018 on the recommendation of the Indecon report, decided to take a fresh approach and to look for an innovative solution to this goal of creating a national training centre that would not require major capital funding. This work has been going on for two years and has involved consideration of many different locations, facilities and business models. Several suitable sites were identified and evaluated but the cost of building the necessary facilities for a comprehensive equestrian establishment, estimated at about €10 million remained an insurmountable stumbling block.
“Eventually, it became known that Greenogue Equestrian which was built at a cost of approximately €10 million, was available to lease with the potential to add additional office and equestrian facilities and this became a live possibility. A considerable amount of due diligence was done to assess the costs versus benefits and at the end of that, the Board of HSI took the decision that this was an excellent facility that could better serve the sector be afforded within the current HSI budget.”
It is planned that Greenogue will house a breeding education and research centre, a world class performance environment for each of the equestrian disciplines, an equestrian training academy for all levels of equestrian activity, a centralised marketing base for sport horse sales and exports, and a permanent headquarters for HSI and its affiliates.
The Board of HSI believe that Greenogue will provide a focal point for the equestrian industry as well as a top quality environment for the provision of equine services, training and research in support of developing the equestrian industry.
The Board and management of HSI are confident and optimistic that this initiative will provide a foundation on which it can build to roll out an exciting programme of research and training which has been in the planning along with the new headquarters. They see it as a game-changer which is long overdue that will put Ireland on an equal footing with national equestrian federations in other countries around the world.
For more information on Horse Sport Ireland’s exciting move to Greenogue, visit our Q&A page HERE
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