Britain’s thoroughbred and sport horse industry can benefit from a new Government deal

Britain’s horse-breeding industry can now exploit the Chinese interest in racing and equestrian sport following the creation of an Export Health Certificate for horses which takes place with immediate effect.

Until now, the Australasian market has mainly capitalised on Chinese enthusiasm. Strict quarantine restrictions have prohibited the development of equestrian sport and racing on mainland China, which is why the eventing, dressage and showjumping competitions for the the 2008 Beijing Olympics were held in Hong Kong.

And, although the Chinese love horse-racing, gambling is prohibited on mainland China so they either bet online or flood into Macau and Hong Kong, where most of the country’s equestrian activity takes place.

There has long been Far Eastern interest in equestrian sport, through the Asian Games; the Japanese, who are likely to have another drive ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, have been prominent in Europe for many years. However, China lags behind – the British-based eventer Alex Hua Tian was their sole representative at the recent World Equestrian Games (WEG) in France.

Recognising Britain’s place at the top of the WEG medal table, Defra Secretary of State Liz Truss declared: ‘We’ve long been a world leader in racing, eventing and breeding—it’s only right that our historic yet innovative equine industry is able to export its top-quality horses and expertise across the globe.’

In 2013, 4,907 horses were exported to 36 countries outside the EU – worth an estimated £108m to the UK economy.  The move should increase employment chances for UK trainers as the Chinese seek British expertise, but it could also open the floodgates for yet more unwanted racehorses to be shipped abroad to an unknown fate.

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