Skip to main content

Danie Toerien (Tab4Racing)

Yee haw!!

That was the overwhelming reaction on Monday when the news broke that the ban on direct horse exports from South Africa to the European Union (EU) had been lifted.

For the past 13 years, South Africa has not been able to export registered equines directly to the EU, but that all changed on Monday when it was announced that the South African Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) had received official notification that the reinstatement of direct EU equine exports had been approved.

In a candid interview, multiple champion trainer Sean Tarry described this as “a fantastic breakthrough”.

“It’s taken long enough and it is definitely very big news for the industry,” said Tarry.

“At the end of the day I am very happy that the export market is opening up. We want to grow the market. A lot of people have spent a lot of time and money to get this deal done. I commend all of them for their efforts.”

According to many experts, this will have far-reaching implications for the South African equine industry.

Local breeders, trainers and owners will undoubtedly see an almost immediate impact.

For starters, breeders are most likely to be the first to benefit.

“It does give international buyers a good opportunity to take a bite at our local market, taking advantage of our currency,” said Tarry.

“I don’t see international buyers coming in and buying 300 horses. They are going to cherry-pick.

“I expect the big-priced horses going for a bit more. The local buyers will then be shuffled back a bit, so they will have to go for the next best thing. That should theoretically push up prices.

“But we can’t have our cake and eat it.”

According to Tarry, the first step now would be to “build our numbers (of locally bred horses) up to where they once were”.

“We need to ensure that we have enough stock so that we don’t lose too many horses.”

It also provides opportunities for South African trainers to raid abroad.

“Getting our horses out of the country as straight forward as possible and to compete on level terms abroad is big,” said Tarry.

“It’s a great opportunity for a trainer who has the right horse to take out the country. South African horses have been successful abroad. The more streamlined the road to getting our horses out, the more competitive we will be, because our horses will be fit.”

The newly announced export protocol still contains strict quarantine regulations and according to Tarry the most important element is to streamline the process further so that horses can be worked during their in-country quarantine period as well as during their arrival time abroad, ensuring the minimum down-time.