Entry fees for this year’s Royal Dublin Show (RDS), 5-7 August, have risen, prompting an outcry from some competitors.
The now “standardised” fees are €275 (£184) per class for show members and €323 (£215) for non-members, though if a horse is entered for more than one class subsequent entry fees are reduced. Fees include stabling at the show.
In some classes the new fees represent only a 5% increase from 2004, but in others, namely for ponies, the increase is more than 30%.
“Over the past few years entry fees for ponies haven’t kept pace with the costs of providing facilities,” said RDS spokesman Fiona Sheridan. “RDS decided to improve the quality of stabling for ponies in 2005 which required the entry fee to be standardised.”
According to Sheridan, less than 16% of the show’s income comes from participants. The remainder comes from sponsorship (Failte Ireland is title sponsor for 2005), corporate entertainment, admissions, tradestands and advertising.
The show also announced a substantial increase in prize-money this year, but despite a boost of 60% in the ponies’ prize-fund, the first prize of €302 (£202) still does not match the entry fee. By comparison, first prize in the Breeders’ Championship is €5,000 (£3,350).
One show pony producer from Northern Ireland said: “The prize-money still does not warrant the increase on entries. A lot of us in Northern Ireland are considering not going to Dublin and taking our ponies to Scotland and England to compete instead.”
At Britain’s equivalent Royal International Horse Show (RIHS), the entry fee for showing classes is £35, but first prize is only £50. Stabling is £40 for one night or £100 for the whole show.
“The relationship between entry fees and prize-money is something near to lunacy in our sport,” commented English show producer David Tatlow, who has also judged at the RDS. “Unless you win, you hardly ever get your expenses back.”
He added: “You have to remember why the show started — every horse was for sale. Nowadays, 90% of the horses competing from Northern Ireland aren’t for sale, but 90% of competitors from Southern Ireland are there to sell the horses. It makes a big difference.”
Sheridan said that entries have not been affected.