Racing leaders meet to discuss implications of a no-deal Brexit

Racing's leaders from Britain, Ireland and France have met for talks to discuss contingency plans amid growing concern over the implications for the sport in the event of a possible no-deal Brexit.

With the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union on March 29 there is increasing fear the previously seamless movement of racehorses and bloodstock involving the three countries will be badly affected or even stop altogether in the event of no transition agreement being reached.

Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh said much depended on what happens in the next week to ten days in Westminster, with MPs having debated amendments to Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan on Tuesday.

Kavanagh added: "What we did in meeting last week was taking an opportunity to discuss in a bit more detail the implications of a no-deal exit and the arrangements that would have to be put in place to keep the show on the road.

"We are working away on those plans in the hope we will never have to use them. We will have to find a way to keep the horses moving both for racing and for sales. That involves us engaging with our ministry for agriculture and, through them, the EU in terms of what checks will be required."

Kavanagh said a new border inspection post was being built at Dublin port to help the movement of horses in the event of a no-deal Brexit and that HRI was working with Ireland's ministry for agriculture over the likely delays and consequent issues that would come as a result.

Should the UK not be listed as a 'third country' by the EU there could be no movement of racehorses at all, but Kavanagh said he understood a decision on a listing was expected in the weeks before Brexit.

He added: "There's very strong cooperation between the British, the Irish and the French to find a way to resolve this."

Representatives of British racing also had a meeting with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last week to discuss Brexit and it is understood an update on the latest position will be provided by the end of the week.

There were also meetings last week between UK ministers and ministers from the Gibraltar government when discussions over Brexit included the signing of an agreement on gambling.

Minister for sport and civil society Mims Davies announced the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding to enable gambling regulators in Great Britain and Gibraltar to work more closely together.

The agreement builds on promises the government gave the Gibraltar gambling industry last year that it would be able to access the UK market after Brexit.

Davies said: "I am delighted to welcome this agreement which will enable closer working between gambling regulators in Great Britain and Gibraltar. Regulatory cooperation is a valuable tool in our collective efforts to ensure gambling is fair and safe while enabling socially responsible growth."