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JP's a tax exile with the turf's interests at heart.

Byline: JONATHAN MULLIN

* T'S that time of the year again, pre-budget hysteria. The government whispers the prospect of different cutbacks to the political correspondents, those leaks solidify and make the front page the following day. Fly the flag up the pole and see how the public reacts; adjust accordingly.

It's open season in politics and everything's up for grabs. The times we are living in mean that - as well as child benefit - our tax exiles are in the government's sights. And there is no sport or industry in this country that has to deal more or examine its conscience in relation to tax exiles than racing.

We're lucky in one way. If you're living abroad in an effort to pay less tax you're obviously earning wheelbarrow loads of cash, and having cash-rich people involved in racing keeps the sport going.

But the country's heading down the Swanee, so does our conscience not prey on us that maybe these tax exiles would be better served paying their taxes in the country here and contributing to the common good? But then they could argue that they are successful businessmen who know how to turn one euro into two, and two million euro into four. Are they not better qualified to disperse their wealth than successive governments who have shown unique talent in how best to waste money rather than use it? With the Flat season in hibernation Irish racing's most high-profile exile is JP McManus. He is a tax resident in Switzerland, with offices in Geneva, and at the weekend he found himself in the eye of the storm.

McManus was in Limerick on Saturday with the Taoiseach to announce his All-Ireland Scholarships at the University of Limerick before being mugged by a frenzied press anxious to see just how, as a tax exile, he could sleep at night.

But, while clearly uncomfortable with both the ambush and the attention, you could sense from his coherent and convincing reply that it was a question he might have been anticipating.

"If I was somebody who set up a business abroad and it didn't go well I'd be considered an emigrant; if it goes well I'm considered an exile.

"Now what do they want? Do they want you to come back and try and support the local economy, try to earn some money abroad and then put in in the local economy? That's what I like to do," said McManus.

"I consider myself Irish. I'm proud to be Irish and I think I'm doing the country more good by being abroad, trying to earn a few quid. If I bring it back and decide to spend it whatever way I like here, at least I'm improving the economy."

We know of some of J P's public donations. We know that his golf tournament has raised EUR95m for charities in the mid-west. We know of his scholarships. We know that when it comes to his charity work, in Rumsfeld-speak, there are known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns.

There's plenty about JP that we don't know nor are entitled to know, but what we know makes him a net contributor to this country and especially to racing.

Would you hazard a guess as to how many trainers have saddled a horse to run for JP this jumps season? Ten in Britain and a phenomenal 33 in Ireland. What marks McManus out from others is that when he buys a horse it almost always stays with that trainer. That policy, and the sheer numbers involved, mean that there's nobody in Irish racing that can match that kind of patronage.

That, together with all of the unknowns, should probably set our consciences straight.

*I moustache you to donate WALKING around Punchestown on Sunday was like drifting on to the set of Magnum PI. Moustaches good and bad, an odd patchy beard, a goatee or two - more facial hair and bum fluff than you'd see in the Planet of the Apes.

The response from the weighroom to Movember, a brilliant charity concept devised to raise awareness and funds for men's health, specifically prostate cancer, has been spectacular, with a fine team of taches making money for charity.

Of course it's one thing admiring/laughing at their attempts for Movember, it's another thing entirely making the next crucial step. With just days to go, log on to ie.movember.com and in the search bar type 'jumpin jocks' to make a donation.

*Bookmakers vital sponsors PUNCHESTOWN predicted a big crowd for last Sunday's Morgiana and they got it - 6,321 people turned out for a wonderful day's racing and, as long as you weren't a bookmaker you were smiling.

Ladbrokes, as title sponsors of the big race, must again take a bow for their committed sponsorship. As they showed at Fairyhouse last Easter they were not just content to write a cheque and let everyone else do the work. It helps, and we'll see the same with Paddy Power at Christmas in Leopardstown, when the sponsor has a tangible core reason to be involved.

Bookmakers, like them or loathe them, are the perfect match for race sponsorships. In the current mess we're in, businesses will stick to their own, so racetracks that can attract sponsorship from companies not directly related to racing are performing heroics.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 24, 2011
Words:886
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