China eyes up Irish horses

Irish bloodstock is held in very high regard internationally and for the first time under new rules Chinese buyers have purchased Irish horses for export.

According to the Department of Agriculture, in January 2014 a group of Chinese buyers purchased 12 horses for export to China. It said these horses will be the first shipment under the new veterinary protocol between Ireland and China, which was agreed between the department and the Chinese Authority AQSIQ in 2013, and it allows for the direct export of horses from Ireland to China.

As a result of this protocol, three further Chinese groups plan to travel to Ireland to purchase horses later this year.

More than 14,000 people are employed in the thoroughbred industry in Ireland and the value of the industry is estimated at almost €1.1bn annually. It also attracts significant inward investment to the country.

Irish Thoroughbred Marketing is proving key at building markets overseas and driving inward investment.

According to the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, there is great potential to grow the international market for Irish bloodstock in new and emerging markets, and to attract further inward investment.

He noted the strides in Irish Thoroughbred Marketing in terms of foreign investments that have been made in the thoroughbred and bloodstock sectors in Ireland in 2013 and to date in 2014.

The minister, who was responding to a parliamentary question in the Dail this week on the issue, referred to inward Investment in the US, Qatar, China and South America.

“A North American investor purchased an historic estate in Co Meath, in 2013, with the intention of transforming it from an agricultural farm into a thoroughbred stud farm,” he cited.

With regards to Qatar, he said a Qatar businessman purchased a prestigious stud in Co Limerick in 2013. “This investment will maintain employment and also represents an opportunity for further investment in Irish bloodstock as breeding stock is purchased for the farm.”
He also referred to last year’s Goffs Orby Sale, Ireland’s premier yearling sale, where a member of the Qatari ruling family who owns a stud farm in Limerick invested €2m in the purchase of 15 yearlings.

“Again at last year’s Goffs Orby Sale, another Qatar national invested €2m in six yearlings, purchased through the Irish-based bloodstock agents,” the minister added.

In terms of Chinese interest, last year a leading figure in Chinese racing invested in 10 yearlings at the Goffs Orby sale, for €300,000 in total. “These yearlings remained in Ireland for pre-training and were then dispersed amongst four Irish trainers. This owner already had two horses in training in Ireland,” the minister said.

Meanwhile according to the Department of  Agriculture, investment in Irish breeding stock from South American investors topped €1m in 2013, following purchases at the Goffs November Sale last year.

With an Irish Thoroughbred Marketing visit to South America planned in March 2014, the plan is to build on this figure in 2014.

“So far in 2014, there has been one international bloodstock sale in Ireland – The Goffs February mixed sale. This sale saw buyers from Libya, India, Russia, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and so on, which helped to boost turnover for the sale by 46 per cent on the previous year,” the minister noted.

Also on another positive note according to recent figures the aggregate for the total amount of bloodstock sold at public auction in Ireland, in 2012, was €93m and this figure increased to €133m in 2013 representing a 43 per cent increase, with exports to 37 countries.

Upcoming Irish thoroughbred trade missions within the next two months include the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Dubai, South America and Singapore.

According to the department, later in 2014, market visits will also be made to China, Hong Kong, India, South Africa, US and mainland Europe, mainly in the UK.

“These very encouraging developments are testament to the regard in which Irish bloodstock is held internationally and also reflect the efforts of both the Irish sales companies and Irish thoroughbred marketing,” Minister Coveney concluded.

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