Brexit and the trade and travel barriers that it entails are causing concern for horse traders and trainers in Ireland, where the equestrian industry is closely tied to the UK.
A year after the fateful votes of the British, British and EU officials officially began the first round of negotiations to bring Britain out of the bloc. Ireland, with its geographical location outside of the European continent, faces the risk of a road crossing across the UK to connect to Europe will be divided after Brexit and prevent Irish trade activities to EU market.
“Our concern is that if there are any trade barriers or tariffs on horse carriage between Ireland and the UK, it will have a negative impact”, Reuters quoted Henry Beeby, director of Goffs, the leading horse trading company in Ireland.
Two-thirds of the horses born in Ireland each year are exported and 80% of them are exported to England. Equine trainers face similar anxiety. About 10,000 racing horses are passed between England and Ireland each year. The close distance, the easy movement makes Irish horses have access to major events and get outstanding success. In Cheltenham, England’s most famous horse race in March, Irish horses accounted for 19 of the 28 winning horses, including the horse that won the Sizing John Gold Cup.
“In fact, we are twins and inseparable industries”, Brian Kavanagh, head of the Irish horse racing governing body, told parliament about the UK and Ireland horse racing industry.
Ireland, France and Britain – the three countries with the most developed horse racing industry in Europe – have an agreement to allow horses registered in one country to freely move to two other countries without veterinary inspection. Jessica Harrington, trainer of the championship horse Sizing John, remembers the time before 1998, when the border was still full of checkpoints and horses could be kept there for hours.
In addition, Irish horse owners now often carry horses across the UK to enter the European continent, avoiding long distances at sea to go directly from Ireland to Europe.