Racing bodies intensify efforts to avoid Brexit disruption
Representatives of the British, Irish and French racing industries are stepping up their efforts to ensure the sport in Europe's three main nations is not disrupted by Brexit.
However, they have not been able to receive any guarantees on the continuation or evolution of the tripartite agreement that guarantees the free movement of horses between the three countries.
BHA executive director Will Lambe said the governing body of British racing therefore welcomed prime minister Theresa May's recent speech in Florence when she called for a two-year transition period before the UK fully left the European Union.
Free movement of horses between Britain, Ireland and France is enshrined in the tripartite agreement that predates EU law and the UK and Ireland's entry into the EU.
The fear is the UK's departure from the EU might be used to revoke the agreement as France and Ireland cannot make bilateral agreements with non-EU countries.
Not only would that affect the movement of racehorses but also breeding stock.
The tripartite agreement was the main agenda item when a high-level delegation including BHA chief executive Nick Rust and his counterparts from Horse Racing Ireland, Brian Kavanagh, and France Galop, Olivier Delloye, along with International Federation of Horseracing Authorities chairman Louis Romanet, met with representatives of the European Commission's negotiating team Task Force 50 in Brussels this month.
However, while the delegation made the case for the continuation of free movement of horses it is understood the response was that the tripartite agreement's future was under pressure.
Lambe said: “We are intensifying our efforts in a coordinated manner across British racing and breeding, both in terms of our own preparedness for a range of scenarios and representations in Westminster and Brussels, including with colleagues from Ireland and France.
"Challenges remain, particularly in the event of no deal being reached and the UK becoming a third country the day after leaving the EU, so we're not alone as an industry in respect of welcoming the call for a transition period of up to two years in Theresa May’s recent Florence speech.
"We are also conscious, though, that we must not lose sight of the opportunities presented by Brexit."
There are also concerns within British racing that Brexit might heap more pressure upon the shortage in stable staff, given the importance of foreign workers.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent, non-departmental public body sponsored by the Home Office that advises government on migration issues, has launched a call for evidence on the impact of Brexit and how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with modern industrial strategy.
Work has begun within the Brexit steering group chaired by Thoroughbred Breeders' Association chairman Julian Richmond-Watson and including members from the BHA and Weatherbys on a submission that will make the case for work-riders to be included on the shortage occupation list to make it easier to recruit from abroad.
If you are interested in this, you should read:
Brexit among warning signs for Irish racing says Kavanagh