As the UK seemingly edges towards a no-deal Brexit, the racing industry has been offered an unexpected break, with the European Union granting ‘national listed status’ to the UK which will protect the movement of racehorses.

The movement across borders is not expected to be ‘seamless’, however the third-country status is hoped to provide some form of certainty to owners and trainers looking to race their horses in European meetings.

British Horseracing Authority Executive Director Will Lambe commented on the announcement: “This is very welcome news for our sector, and provides some important certainty ahead of a 31st October departure from the EU.

“There will still be additional requirements for our participants wishing to travel a horse into the EU, but full guidance and assistance is available. We continue to support and appreciate the UK Government’s position that there will be no immediate change to arrangements for thoroughbreds travelling into the UK in the event of no deal.”

The new listed status will ensure movement can still continue, but those looking to move racehorses will need to make sure that they comply with new requirements, such as going through the correct EU border inspection posts, and adherence with certain veterinary protocols.

Under a no-deal Brexit, which appears to be the likely outcome of current negotiations, the current Tripartite Agreement will cease to exist come the 31st October. The agreement, which oversees the free movement of racehorses between the UK, Ireland and France, has ensured that racehorses can be moved freely across the borders.

Back in 2017, racehorses were moved across the borders over 26,000 times under the terms of the legislation, however, a no-deal will put the agreement to the test.

However, a failure to reach a trade deal with the European Union will hit the sector hard and would impact the 1,500 race meetings held in the UK. The current racing calendar is estimated to generate £11.5bn in bets for UK bookmakers, so it’s safe to say that any barriers to the movement of horses will have severe knock-on effects for the gambling industry also.

Earlier this month, the Thoroughbred Industries Brexit Steering Group warned the racing sector to ramp up its plans to mitigate the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

The group emphasised that ‘the political situation regarding the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, currently scheduled for 31 October, remains unpredictable’, and the Group advised industry participants to ‘start making plans for how a no-deal Brexit might affect them.’

Third country status has previously been awarded to the UK back in the spring of this year, however this was only granted one day before the initial Brexit deadline.

The EU’s decision to award the status to the UK so far in advance of October 31 on this occasion could suggest that Boris Johnson’s government is more likely to pursue a no-deal Brexit.

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