02/08/2013 2:36PM

Ontario Horse Improvement Program will continue in 2013


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Planning for Ontario’s Horse Improvement Program, which will provide funding of up to $30 million for the province’s Thoroughbred and Standardbred sectors, is moving forward for 2013, the Ontario Racing Commission announced Friday.

The mandate of the Horse Improvement Program program is to improve the quality of racing stock in Ontario and promote breeding and ownership in the province through purse supplements and breeder awards for Ontario-breds.

“The Ontario government and industry continue to work toward ensuring a future for horseracing in the province of Ontario,” said Rod Seiling, chair of the Ontario Racing Commission, in a press release.

“This funding envelope is in keeping with the position of the horse racing industry transition panel – that HIP plays an important role in a sustainable horse racing industry.”

The transition panel, a triumvirate of three former Ontario cabinet ministers enlisted by the provincial government, was formed with the purpose of looking into financial solutions for funding Ontario’s racetracks when the racetracks slots program expires on March 31.

“The Horse Improvement Program is another milestone on the road to a renewed, sustainable future for horse racing in Ontario,” said Ted McMeekin, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“This program will provide important support for that transition.”

While consultation with advisory groups began in mid-December to address the urgency of 2013 breeding decisions, efforts will now be accelerated.

Wendy Hoogeveen, Horse Improvement Program administrator, acknowledged that the Ontario horse racing sector will be faced with many challenges in the years ahead.

“But I firmly believe the future is bright for the Ontario-bred horse in this province,” said Hogeveen. “The Horse Improvement Program is well-positioned to serve the interests of the stakeholders. And, it will do so while providing government with clearly demonstrated benefits for its investment.”