Newmarket horseracing industry facing Brexit challenges, committee hears

Churchill (centre) ridden by Ryan Moore goes onto win The Dubai Dewhurst Stakes ahead of Lancaster B

Horseracing in Newmarket is one of West Suffolk's key industries - Credit: PA Wire/Nigel French

Concerns have been raised over the impact Brexit is having on one of West Suffolk's biggest industries - horseracing in Newmarket.

A meeting of West Suffolk Council's scrutiny committee last week heard that the UK's withdrawal from the European Union on December 31 2020 had resulted in additional red tape and customs problems for firms and individuals in Newmarket's horseracing industry.

Jill Korwin, corporate director at West Suffolk Council, told the committee that transport costs, custom checks and border inspections had been problematic for horse owners, as well as VAT implications and additional health checks on horses.

"Historically there was a tripartite agreement between the UK, Ireland and France, which is where the majority of horse movements occur, which effectively allowed that free movement of horses," she said.

The Millennium Stand at Newmarket Racecourse

Newmarket Racecourse brings millions of pounds to the West Suffolk economy every year - Credit: Archant

"The lobbying pre-Brexit [by those in the industry] was hoping that would be included in our settlement but unfortunately it wasn't, so that's why they find themselves in the position they are.

"The British Horseracing Authority has been very active in this lobbying position, and we are looking first of all at how we understand that and whether there is anything we can do to support that.

"The challenges are in terms of animal welfare if they are delayed in checks, the volume of the checks, and the amount of paperwork - the amount of paperwork to move a horse is phenomenal."

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Ms Korwin said tax implications on horses entering the country for a race meeting were "very challenging", even if it was only for a few days, because they were effectively considered an import.

Jill Korwin

Jill Korwin, corporate director at West Suffolk Council - Credit: Archant

She added: "What the industry is trying to do is lobby particularly around the VAT position and the customer and border position, and we have escalated up using colleagues at Suffolk County Council and animal health and welfare leads there to take another route up to Defra on that."

The horseracing industry in Newmarket brings in millions of pounds - figures from 2017 suggested that was around £240million, making it one of the most significant for the district.

Councillor Simon Cole said the delays at customs was a particular issue when "timing is everything" in the industry, and were "more than significant" given the average racing career for a horse spanned around four years.

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