British racing ponders equine travel following EU rules change

British horse racing owners and breeders have called for the government to work with European counterparts and reduce the levels of red tape for allowing British thoroughbreds to cross EU borders.

Owners and breeders of British racing studs have noted a tough adjustment to the rules of equine travel and export following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

A BBC East report had cited that vets working at the Newmarket Equine Hospital had seen their workloads significantly increase since January, as owners required extra medical checks to ensure that their horses were fit to travel.

In certain instances, individual horses would require an additional 26 stamps to be allowed to travel to one European destination – significantly increasing medical costs for owners and breeders.

Data from January to February 2021, provided by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), detailed that British-trained runners in EU-held races had fallen by 67%, compared to a 23% reduction across the rest of the World.

Meanwhile, EU-trained horses competing in the UK had fallen by 92%, with a 93% reduction in runners from Ireland and 89% from Northern Ireland.

The BHA revealed that ‘Thoroughbred Export Certificates’ for permanent export have fallen by 30% overall, with runner ‘Breeding Clearance Notifications’ for temporary exports declining by 61%.

Providing evidence to the House of Commons, Ross Hamilton, the BHA’s External Affairs Officer, noted that whilst COVID-19 had a continued impact on equine travel, all racing stakeholders had been burdened by a significant increase in paperwork and administration.

The BHA underscored the importance of UK thoroughbreds maintaining their access and rights to compete in European races, as the sport and its owners re-emerge from lockdown.  

Prior to the UK securing its post-Brexit trade arrangements, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had reassured UK owners that equine travel between the would be maintained by the ‘Tripartite Agreement of 2014’ with limited veterinarian checks being enforced between the UK, Ireland and France.

“To ensure movements to EU countries can continue as smoothly as possible, we have implemented a range of initiatives to increase the number of certifiers to meet demand for export health certification,” DEFRA said.

“We continue to meet regularly with key industry stakeholders, and authorities in France and Ireland, to understand difficulties associated with the movement of equines as they arise.”

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