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Ban on South African horses being exported to the EU lifted

26 Mar 2024
Jon Vine 26 Mar 2024
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  • The ban on South African horses being exported to the EU has been lifted
  • Read key quotes and reactions from SAEHP members here
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The Met (Getty Images)

The direct export of South African horses was lifted on Monday, following 13 years of exile.

In 2011, an outbreak of African Horse Sickness led to a ban on exports from South Africa directly to the European Union. Prior to the ban, trainers like Mike De Kock took their horses all over the world, enjoying success in the UK, America and the UAE.

South African horse racing and bloodstock have suffered as a direct result of this ban. The COVID outbreak added another stumbling block to a bumpy road in 2020, but there was widespread jubilation around the South African horse racing community when the ban was finally lifted this week.

When the news was announced, two prominent members of the South African Equine Health and Protocols (SAEHP) were quick to speak to the press.

"It is anticipated that this opening up of direct EU exports will, over time, give a significant boost to not just the South African thoroughbred racing and breeding industry, but also to the other equine disciplines, all of which have been somewhat internationally isolated for many years." Said SAEHP chairman David Abery.

"It is vital that what has now been achieved is maintained and we look forward to working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the functions of SAEHP are well funded and developed as required, so that we can support industry in maximising the value which flows from an efficient and strong horse export system.”

Adrian Todd, managing director of SAEHP, went on to explain why it took so long to come to this decision.

“Firstly we needed to get the South African government involved." Todd said. "The negotiations ultimately had to be between the various governments and hence a proper Public Private Partnership with our government, including the Western Cape Veterinary Services was essential."

“SAEHP, formed due to the vision of Chris van Niekerk and the Export Task Team which he jointly founded with Mrs Susan Rowett, as a cooperative venture between the sales companies had been working on getting direct exports to the EU reinstated since January 2018, its operations funded by South African private individuals and racing organisations."

"Then in 2021 The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) came on board not only as a funder, but also to provide additional expertise on a technical level. This really allowed the export drive to be taken to the next level. CEO of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, has also in his role as Chair of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) and as Chairman of the Asian Racing Federation been a staunch champion of South Africa in its struggle to get exports reinstated.”

This ruling means we could now see the stars of South African horse racing strutt their stuff on the global stage once again. Royal Ascot could be a target for many of SA's top trainers, along with huge global meetings like the Breeders' Cup and prestigious races in Japan and Hong Kong.

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