OUT with the old and in with the new.

Providing challenging thought streams was certainly the order of the day at Thursday’s Equine Summit, hosted in the Keadeen Hotel, Newbridge, by Alltech and GAIN, supported by Grant Thornton and The Irish Field on the chosen theme of Striving for Global Excellence.

Congratulations in particular to the staff involved at Alltech and GAIN for tireless work behind the scenes and on Thursday.

A top line-up of speakers provided plenty of food for thought for the 400 attendees, with frank views expressed on the current state of play in both the sport horse and racing sectors and the coming challenges to be faced, including Brexit.

Alltech’s Aidan Connolly’s keynote address set the bar high from the off, challenging any notions we might all have had that Ireland’s reputation as a world leader in all things equine would remain blissfully unrivalled into the future.

Not so.

Forget assuming the status quo cannot be turned on its head in a new world order of emerging nations and amazing technology.

As an industry, we have to boot such old thinking hard into the past if we are to protect and enhance our global reputation going forward.

In the space of mere minutes, with just three key issues posed, the minds of everyone present were well and truly awakened.

With our cosy blanket deftly removed, Connolly presented a glimpse of the future that got everyone thinking.

In short, we could all instantly see the dangers of our flagship bloodstock and racing industry being overly reliant on a rapidly changing betting model revenue steam. while both sectors are also particularly exposed on the human capital front and all the limitations that can – and already is – imposing. Even flagship yards and studs are finding it increasingly hard to fill what are good jobs offers.

Add to that the disengagement factor from the wider public who don’t have equestrian sports, breeding or racing hardwired into their DNA and you are looking at a very different picture.

No one day can either answer all questions or explore all issues out there of course but as the first high-level platform for both the sport horse and racing sectors to come together and engage, it’s a day that made its mark and achieved a real goal.

We’re finally thinking and talking as one equine industry.