Hard Brexit 'will play havoc with horse industry'
A hard Brexit will play havoc with the equine industry across the island, the chairman of Punchestown Racecourse has warned.
Ahead of this week's four-day festival, David Mongey said the UK and Ireland were intrinsically linked when it came to horses.
The Punchestown Festival kicks off tomorrow, with about 17,000 to 20,000 people from the UK expected at the Kildare event. That is about 20pc of the total numbers attending.
Mr Mongey said there had been no immediate impact from the Brexit vote to date on the festival, but he was concerned about the impact of a prolonged weakening in sterling. And he said the potential reimposition of a customs border once the UK pulls out of the EU could have severe consequences for both the thoroughbred and non-thoroughbred industries on the island.
"I think the value of the sterling is going to be important. If the hard border comes into play, it's going to play havoc," Mr Mongey said. "The margins in some parts of the industry are quite tight. You have a small breeder in the country, and he's trying to sell his horse across the Border, and he has sterling difference, he might have quarantine, etc, the transport costs."
He said the equine industry operates on an all-island basis, with horses, trainers and riders regularly moving between both jurisdictions. The thoroughbred industry in Ireland is worth €1.1bn to the economy, employing 14,000 people; and the non-thoroughbred sector is worth €700m, with 11,000 employed.