THE view that Irish racehorse owners and trainers will face a Herculean task in sending runners to Britain from now on has been rubbished by Willie Mullins, who says his team has managed to dispatch a horse to Market Rasen today without any fuss.
Grangee will be the first Irish-trained runner in Britain since the end of the Brexit transition period and therefore the journey involves leaving and re-entering the European Union. Next week’s edition of The Irish Field will carry details of the process involved but on Friday Mullins reported that it had gone smoothly so far.
There were – and still are – fears that every movement of horses between Ireland and Britain (in either direction) is now liable to Value Added Tax (VAT). Some tax experts have said that even if the horse is only travelling for a race or to be covered, VAT must be paid on entry – in case the horse is actually being sold and moved permanently – and the VAT can be reclaimed once the animal returns to its original country.
This would potentially involve millions having to be lodged with revenue commissioners ahead of major racing festivals and the breeding season. Getting clearance for youngstock heading to the sales in Britain would be even more complicated.
However, Mullins said his experience so far was good. “There were no problems and no VAT implications in the end. You can send a horse over to race on a temporary admission document. You need to organise the health certificate in advance – the Department of Agriculture needs five days’ notice - and it’s important to use an experienced transport company, but it was much simpler in practice than I had been led to believe.
“Everyone was saying it was near impossible, so I just said to my office team ‘go ahead and do it’. There were no hold-ups, once we did the paperwork. As far as I’m concerned, we’re all good for Cheltenham.”
His view was backed up by Ciara Dillon of leading accountancy firm BDO Ireland who said: “With regard to the UK import VAT issue that has arisen on bringing Irish horses to Britain for racing, I have been speaking with BDO Ireland and understand that there is a solution (i.e. temporary admission procedure) such that no VAT cost should arise. The BDO Brexit team are working with the industry to help them ensure they have right procedures in place.”
However, a senior industry figure warned against any early celebrations. “It’s a learning process. My understanding is that sending a horse to Britain, even temporarily, is still deemed to be a VAT event. It remains to be seen how the UK and Irish authorities will interpret that. The problem arises if, for some reason, the horse did not come back. This weekend’s Irish runner in Britain will tell us something but it is the sales which will be the most complicated.”
Ann Munnelly of BBA Ireland said: “We haven’t moved any horses yet but it will be nothing like it was before, either logistically or cost-wise.” She recommended that horse owners engage the services of a trusted shipping specialist when sending horses to Britain and start the process at least five working days ahead of the intended departure date.
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