Declan Murray with Andrew Murphy supervising the airlift Picture: Arthur Ellis
A MAJOR airlift of Irish thoroughbred horses has taken place from Shannon Airport, bound for China.
The airlift of 76 horses in a Boeing 747 cargo plane from Shannon took place late last week.
The €3m airlift was the biggest single movement of Irish horses to China ever, more than doubling the previous high.
The horses were purchased for Chinese businessman Zhang Yuesheng by Kildare based bloodstock agency BBA Ireland at sales in Goffs last autumn, all from Irish breeders.
The airlift, it is hoped, will lead to further purchases by Chinese horse racing and breeding interests in Irish stock, and was the product of a number of years work by BBA Ireland, supported by Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM), the semi-state which promotes Ireland as the leading source for the production and sale of quality thoroughbreds worldwide.
Andrew Murphy, Chief Commercial Officer for Shannon Group, which operates Shannon Airport, said the airlift was in keeping with the airport’s target of growing its livestock cargo business.
“We are well used to ‘firsts’ at Shannon but having a record airlift of Irish horses to China from here was very exciting for all concerned,” he said.
“BBA Ireland are experts in this market and we are delighted to be working with them. We also have considerable experience and expertise over the years in handling this type of precious cargo through sizeable equine lifts for some of the Irish larger stud farms that have horses going to the United States, Middle East and onto Australia. This gives comfort to BBA Ireland and, indeed, to their clients.”
Declan Murray, Managing Director at BBA Ireland, said it was “really good business for the Irish equine industry, not least for small breeders from whom most of these horses were purchased.
“Many of these horses might not have met the high standards of the Irish and European market but they are still of a higher standard than the average horse currently racing in China. So Irish breeders get a good price for horses they might not otherwise have got, the industry here further develops the emerging Chinese market and China gets a higher quality race horse. Everyone wins with this.”