RESEARCH conducted by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association [ITBA] confirms there has been a significant drop in the number of British broodmares visiting Irish stallions since Britain left the European Union.

The study looked at the origin of mares visiting the top 20 thoroughbred stallions in Ireland. Between 2020 and 2021, the numbers arriving from Britain to be covered by those top-end stallions fell by a massive 27%, and the early indications are that the number has fallen further in 2022.

One major stallion farm told the ITBA that the number of British-based mares it had welcomed in 2021 was down 250 on the previous year.

Since Britain formally left the EU on January 31st, 2021, travelling horses between the two jurisdictions has become more expensive and more time-consuming due to increased paperwork and veterinary checks.

A senior manager at one of Ireland’s biggest stallion farms told The Irish Field: “The number of British mares being sent to our stallions this year is nothing like what it was before Brexit. There was a huge drop-off in 2021 but it has recovered slightly this year, now that people are a bit more familiar with the arrangements.”

A prominent National Hunt stud owner commented: “It will cost a British breeder an extra €2,000 to send a mare to Ireland now, so it is not viable is most cases. There are probably a few making the trip to be covered by the very top jumps stallions.”

Patrick Keane of Ballinroe Transport has consistently highlighted the damage being done to Irish racing and breeding by the increased costs and administration involved in moving horses between Ireland and Britain post-Brexit.

He said: “The expense has doubled. On top of blood tests, veterinary fees and higher fuel prices, British breeders sending mares to Ireland also have to pay a bond to cover potential VAT and duty liability.

“This money can be claimed back in due course but the procedure is not simple. Coolmore Stud is the only farm which has a bond in place which makes it easier.”

Brexit has also impacted the number of Irish mares visiting British stallions. Bloodstock agent Keith Harte, who offers a livery service for Irish breeders in Britain, told The Irish Field: “It was a big shock to the system in 2021 – we had virtually no business at all from Irish and French breeders until March. Normally we would be taking in mares from December onwards. Instead of the usual 15 mares from France last year, we had one.

“It’s all because of the extra costs. Usually we send mares back 28 days after covering but now, with veterinary checks and blood tests required, it can be 35-40 days which means more expense for the breeder.”

On a positive note, Patrick Keane reported that the Tipperary district veterinary office [DVO] has cut down on some of the red tape involved in exporting horses from that county. “When a private veterinary surgeon issues a health certificate for a horse, the Tipperary DVO is signing it off online in most cases. They carry out occasional spot checks but the online sign-off is a big help,” the transporter said.