Farm Ireland

Sunday 19 November 2017

Qataris bullish about investment in lucrative bloodstock industry

Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah Bin Muhammad Al-Saud, Minister for Education in Saudi Arabia
Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah Bin Muhammad Al-Saud, Minister for Education in Saudi Arabia
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Qataris are set to overtake Dubai's all powerful Maktoum family as the principal investors in the Irish thoroughbred industry over the coming years.

Talks between the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, and the influential Qatari Minister for Finance, Prince Johann have convinced Irish officials that the oil-rich Gulf State is set to invest heavily in our crucial bloodstock sector.

"I'd be very bullish about future investment by Qataris in Ireland. They are taking the international thoroughbred market by storm at the moment," Minister Coveney said after his five-day trade mission to the Middle East last week.

"They are making dramatic investments in the sector and senior members of their Government see Ireland as a premier destination to breed horses," he said.

"That means that the world comes to Ireland to not only breed horses, but also keep them there for training."

The Maktoums, under their Godolphin moniker, have invested millions of euro over the last 30 years in Ireland in 15 separate studs that now employ an estimated 400 people.

However, Qatari businessmen Mubarak Al Naemi and Sheikh Fahaf Al Thani of the Qatari royal house herald the arrival of a new source of investment following their stud farm purchases in the last two months.

Mr Naemi, who is a chemical engineer and chairman of the Qatar Owners and Breeders Association, purchased the 300ac Kilfrush Stud in Limerick, while Sheikh Fahaf Al Thani is planning to develop a high class operation on the 100ac greenfield site he recently purchased, which is also in Limerick. Industry sources said that at least another €1m would be invested to convert the farm into a high class stud.

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Qatar Racing, which has become a significant investor in racing in Ireland in recent years, has horses in training with well known Irish trainers Ger Lyons and Eddie Lynam.

Meanwhile, one of the most prestigious riding schools in Abu Dhabi is set to source another 30 horses to bring its tally to over 100.

Minister Coveney visited the school during his trip and was impressed with the welfare standards that existed there.

"There is no need to be worrying about the welfare of any of the horses out here in the heat. They're all in air-conditioned quarters and treated very well," the minister said.

"The Irish horse sector has a world class reputation and is recognised globally, but nowhere more than here in the Gulf, as a centre of excellence for breeding, training and all things equine," he added.

Ireland is the biggest supplier of thoroughbred foals in Europe, producing 40pc of EU output. It is also the fourth largest producer in the world behind USA, Australia and Argentina. In 2012 exports hit €174m.

The horse racing industry employs 17,000 and contributes more than €1bn to Ireland's rural economy.

There are approximately 9,238 horses in training here, with four of the last six Epsom Derby winners Irish-trained.

Irish Independent

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