Sellers' register aims to boost business from overseas buyers
Horse Sport Ireland has announced that it wants to compile a list of people who sell or facilitate the sale of Irish horses abroad.
Applicants to the new register will be expected to comply with a Horse Sport Ireland code of conduct for sellers.
Consultations on both the register and the code of conduct are expected to take place in the next month.
The Farming Independent spoke to Horse Sport Ireland chief executive Damian McDonald to find out more about its plans for a sellers' register.
Q Why is Horse Sport Ireland taking this initiative?
A The objective in doing this is to encourage more foreign buyers to come to Ireland to buy Irish horses.
The profile of Horse Sport Ireland is growing abroad and we are getting an increasing number of queries from foreign buyers about how they would go about buying an Irish horse.
At present, we guide them primarily towards the public auctions.
However, not everyone wants to buy at an auction so we need to have a transparent system to put prospective buyers in touch with prospective sellers.
We are conscious that this is a sensitive enough area and we want to work with people to devise the most effective and fair system possible.
Q How will the initiative work in practice?
A We have some thoughts in relation to how we might operate a system but we want to engage with potential sellers to see what the best approach would be.
We would like to discuss a Code of Conduct with them with a view to devising a reasonable code that gives comfort to prospective buyers but is fair to the seller also.
Q Will this be compulsory?
ANo. Any private citizen is entitled to engage in trade and to sell their horses or assist others to sell their horses.
However, we want to have a list of people who have signed up to a code.
This will then give us more comfort in distributing their details to foreign buyers.
Q What is the time frame?
A During November we would intend to have a meeting of those who express an interest with a view to having the system in place in January.
Q Will there be any fees for being part of the initiative?
A It is likely that there will be some fee. This is something we will discuss with the parties.
In 2012, the Sport Horse Sector received approximately €3m from the Government while the racing sector received €45m. This allows the Thoroughbred sector to fund Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM) and other initiatives.
At present, we would not have the funding to underwrite the sort of marketing programme we would like to embark on.
While this initiative is primarily about the supply side of the equation, a good system for linking buyers with sellers would mean that our marketing and promotion efforts could be more focused.
Q What marketing and promotion initiatives are in place at present?
A At present we have an Inward Buyer programme but we would like to enhance it. The reality is that our marketing programme is quite limited at the moment, due to resource constraints.
We promote the results of Irish-bred horses very effectively and we would regularly get comments from other countries about how well we do this.
However, we would like to do more marketing and look at interventions we can make to encourage buyers to come to Ireland to buy a horse.
We participated in the Minister's trade mission to China and we had a stand at the recent HORFA Trade Fair in China. New and emerging markets do like to deal with the governing body for the sector, as recognised by the Government and we need to be able to assist buyers from these markets.
The Irish horse still has a great reputation worldwide. We recently topped the world studbook rankings in eventing and we had four Irish Sport horses in the top ten in eventing at the Olympics.
We had a massive 31 Irish Sport Horses on the start list at the world championships for young event-horses in Le Lion d'Angers, which the Farming Independent recently featured.
There is also an improvement in our showjumping position where we are now ranked eighth, with 10 Irish Sport Horses in the world's top 200. We need to step up what we are doing to try and take advantage of this.
For more information and to register your interest in the sellers' register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or download the form from www.horsesportireland.ie