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South African Equine Health and Protocols (SAEHP) has announced an important and exciting update regarding the re-opening of European Union (EU) export markets to the various equine disciplines in South Africa.

SAEHP, in conjunction with the South African Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), advises that DALRRD has received official notification that the reinstatement of direct exports of registered equines from South Africa to the EU has been approved.

This official notification followed a meeting of the EU Commission Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed – Controls and Import Conditions Section whereby the EU Member States endorsed the Commission’s proposal for an amendment to Annex IV of the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/404.

This amendment places South Africa’s African Horse Sickness (AHS) free zone back on the Annex IV list as an authorised zone within South Africa from which registered equines are authorised for direct entry into the EU following the required in-country pre-export quarantine period.

It is 13 years since South Africa was last able to export registered equines directly to the EU. SAEHP was formed in 2018 and has been working with the South African Government for the past six years to achieve this export milestone. It has taken longer than originally anticipated, with the main reason being that Covid affected the first official EU audit timing, scheduled for 2020, but with the audit rescheduled and carried out in 2022 and subsequent communications between DALRRD and the EU authorities, the reinstatement of direct EU equine exports has now been granted. The most challenging hurdle has now been surpassed, and the implementation of exports will be straightforward.

The workstreams to achieve this success have been long and complex.

SAEHP would like to sincerely thank the South African Government, DALRRD, the Western Cape Veterinary Services, SAEHP’s various funders in South Africa, The Hong Kong Jockey Club, the National Horseracing Authority (NHA), the Hollywoodbets Kenilworth Quarantine Station, the Thoroughbred Breeders Association  as well as all the participants in the audit process, the laboratories, trainers, stud farms, registering authorities (NHA, Stud Book, and South African Equestrian Federation), stop over quarantine facilities and last but not least the SAEHP board members, management and staff for together achieving this important outcome.

This is a very positive development for both the South African thoroughbred racing industry as well as for other equine disciplines in the country and the re-opening of normal trade will have many benefits, including in time the creation of further jobs in this employment intensive industry.

The reinstatement of direct exports to the EU may lead to other export markets deciding to invest in South African horses, either by exporting via the EU or exporting directly from South Africa.

This will lead to greater interest in South African yearlings and horses in training of all equine disciplines, benefiting breeders and owners who choose to either sell to overseas buyers or compete internationally.

Dr Mpho Maja, Director Animal Health at DALRRD, said “I am very pleased with the outcome; this shows that when we work together, we can achieve what is thought to be impossible. I send my gratitude to the equine industry and provincial veterinary services for the support provided in ensuring compliance to the requirements. I look forward to our horses flying the flag internationally and making us all proud.”


SAEHP Chairman David Abery enjoys a winning moment recently (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

David Abery, Chairman of SAEHP, said “This is very exciting news, and thank you to everyone involved in making it happen. It is anticipated that this opening up of direct EU exports will, over time, give a significant boost to not just the South African thoroughbred racing and breeding industry, but also to the other equine disciplines, all of which have been somewhat internationally isolated for many years.

“It is vital that what has now been achieved is maintained, and we look forward to working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the functions of SAEHP are well funded and developed as required, so that we can support industry in maximising the value which flows from an efficient and strong horse export system.”

This EU amendment will come into effect after publication in the Official Journal of the European Union which is expected to occur shortly. SAEHP will advise when this publication has been made.

The pre-export quarantine period will take place at the existing Hollywoodbets Kenilworth Quarantine Station, exports will be then able to take place from the AHS free zone in Cape Town directly to the EU.

Further information will be disseminated in due course.

Media release by SAEHP on Monday 25 March 2024.