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South Africa is yet another step closer to unburdened bloodstock exports, the game-changer our industry has been waiting for. The European Union (EU) confirmed on Tuesday that an audit of South African export protocols will be conducted in the months of April/May 2020.

This follows a meeting between the EU, the South African Department of Agriculture’s Director of Animal Health, Dr Mpho Maja and Niki Kruger, Chief Director of Trade Negotiations, International Trade and Economic Development Division (ITED).

In expectation of the announcement, bloodstock consultant David Allan wrote in a prominent racing publication this week: “… the January 2020 Cape Premier Yearling Sale could be presented as potentially the last opportunity to buy-buy-buy at today’s prices!”

Another bloodstock veteran, Alistair Brown, lauded the EU and commented: “I find it strange that there are always those who seem to think that this is something that is only going to benefit the ‘big’ (“rich”) players (owners) in the sport!

“Good horses – as all of us who have been in the game for years (or decades) know – come from anywhere… the number of cheaply bought yearlings who have become top performers for small owners and trainers are numerous to detail.”

Wéhann Smith, CEO of Cape Thoroughbred Sales (CTS), expressed similar sentiments and said: “It goes almost without saying that the smaller buyers will also be able to benefit substantially once the export restrictions are lifted. It’s all about skill and horsemanship, and those local, smaller buyers who can spot and acquire the value at the auctions will be able to sell their best, qualifying purchases to buyers abroad, at substantial profits.

“CPYS is a window to the South African racing and breeding world, staged in what was recently judged The Telegraph’s World’s Best City for the seventh year running. We have always tailored and marketed our sale to attract the big overseas buyers alongside our local bench. Our bloodstock is of high quality, dozens of graduates from our sales have performed with distinction internationally and we will soon be able to reclaim our rightful place on the world stage.

“We are indeed thrilled with this announcement and convey our thanks to everyone who has played a role in getting us this far.”

While the official audit is a few months away, vendors at CPYS will be hoping that the positive sentiment surrounding open exports will lead to an early influx of powerful overseas buyers to Cape Town on 16 January, and it will be interesting to see what transpires.

Adrian Todd, CEO of SAEHP, commented: “The EU will be sending a pre-audit questionnaire early in the New Year so that final preparations can be done. One of the most encouraging aspects is that we have shown what can be done when the private and government sectors cooperate and work to the same goal.”

Eight-times SA Champion trainer and SAEHP board member Mike de Kock was delighted and said: “With all the negative news we’ve had, this is the announcement of the year.  I am excited for SA racing, the audit still has to be completed and there will be a few technical issues after that, but we’re as close now as we’ve been which is wonderful.

“This is a vital issue. Some of our industry’s biggest investors, like the Sheikhs of Dubai, have been getting impatient but now, at last, we have something tangible, light at the end of the tunnel. I have seen the ramifications of the prohibiting protocols on my own business with an internationally competitive Dubai string of 40 horses grinding to an almost complete halt.

“Adrian Todd and his team at SAEHP have worked very hard and in the face of many obstacles to get us this far. They deserve compliments, along with Dr Maja who gave racing her preference and several others who have done sterling work behind the scenes.”