|Tuesday, February 18, 2014||Contact: Andrew Chesser|
|Historic workshop on international competition horse movement opens in Hong Kong|
Photo caption: (left to right) Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of the HKJC and Vice Chairman of the IFHA, Dr Bernard Vallat, Director General of the OIE, Ingmar De Vos, FEI Secretary General and Chi Kong Alan Wong, Director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of the Government of Hong Kong pictured today (18 February) at the opening of an historic international movement of sport horses workshop for government veterinary and animal health experts from 20 nations across Asia and Oceania at the Happy Valley Racecourse (HKG). (Photo: Mak Shi Hung/ Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of the Government of Hong Kong).
18 February 2014
Historic workshop on international competition horse movement opens in Hong Kong
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is hosting a three day regional workshop for Asia, the Far East and Oceania, at Happy Valley Racecourse, Hong Kong. The event opened today, Tuesday 18 February.
The workshop is the first of its kind ever held in Asia, and is co-organised by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of the Hong Kong Government (AFCD) and the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC).
In the last decade, there has been significant worldwide growth in the sport horse industry, bringing with it socio-economic benefits to many national economies and to the horse industry itself. This growth, however, faces a number of challenges that impede the free and safe international movement of competition horses as well as the expansion of the equine industry. These obstacles include inconsistent approaches to the application of health regulations and quarantine, leading to excessive and irregular health requirements for importation of horses.
In order to address these constraints, the OIE, with the support of the FEI and IFHA, and the contributions of a range of experts, is developing the ‘high health, high performance horse (HHP)’ concept, based on existing OIE Standards.
To identify the concrete nature of the impediments to movement of competition horses, which covers all forms of equestrian sport, including horse racing, the OIE organises dialogue in various regions of the world, aimed ultimately at harmonising national health requirements for horse importation. This week’s workshop, held in Hong Kong from 18-20 February, is the latest stage in that process, and is being attended by delegates from all over Asia, the Far East and Oceania.
The conference opened with a video message from Her Royal Highness Princess Haya, President of the FEI, in which she told delegates: “Some of the world’s most valuable and supervised horses are now competing for the biggest prizes on the planet here in Asia. Recently, we saw the South East Asian Games in Myanmar. Next year, the Asian Games will be held in Incheon, in the Republic of Korea and in 2020, the Olympic Games will come once again to Asia and the eyes of the world will be focused on this region”
Princess Haya added: “The single objective of this week’s session is to establish a better approach to the temporary importation of high performance horses, which is in line with established OIE principles and acknowledges that they present a low risk. This approach needs to be transparent, consistent, fair, efficient and safe.”
“The acceptance of the HHP concept in May will be a major milestone in the history of horse sport development”, said Ingmar De Vos, FEI Secretary General. “The growth of horse sport around the world has already created a lot of awareness and understanding of the issues we are facing, and it is encouraging to see that this has had a major positive impact on nations on many levels, on the horse sport industry and of course on athletes who are striving to represent their country at key international events, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Chief Executive Officer of the HKJC and vice-chairman of the IFHA with special responsibility for international horse movement said: “It is vital for the growth of horse racing and equestrian sport internationally that the movement of horses becomes smoother, without jeopardizing the health status of horses around the world.”
“From the IFHA’s perspective, we want to enable the world’s best horses to participate in the world’s leading events. Cross-border competition is, of course, good for the sport, but it also improves the breed, as increased global competition helps to identify the best horses, many of whom are then involved in the breeding cycle. This historic workshop over the next three days is a wonderful opportunity for continued dialogue between all of us who are striving to make progress in this area and I am grateful to everyone here for their attendance and their input.”
“The OIE recognizes the value of the equine industry, not only because of the increased number of equestrian events worldwide, but also in terms of creating employment,” said Dr Bernard Vallat, Director General of the OIE. “However, we recognize that much of the growth in the horse industry is taking place in the traditional horse sport regions of the world – Europe, North America, Canada and Australia. So facilitation of international horse movement would also allow for emerging countries and regions to tap into the economic potential associated with an increase in numbers of equestrian events, be it horse racing or FEI sport.”
“The concept of identifying a sub population of high health, high performance horses, which is in line with the OIE Standards and Principles, is designed to address the perceived issues in terms of global movement of horses. This workshop is one of a series organised by the OIE in different regions of the world, which brings together the key public and private sector stakeholders involved in this undertaking. I hope that the dialogue between all parties on all the topics covered in the next three days will be very fruitful.”
Dr Ko Wing Man, Secretary for Food and Health of the Hong Kong Government, welcoming delegates, said: “Globally, the international transportation of competition horses has become more extensive and frequent in the course of time driven by a steady growth in the number of events involving competition horses.”
“Unlike places such as Europe and North America where equine sport is very well established, significant room exists for expansion in territories including Asia. Our common goal is to establish a framework for countries and regions to harmonise the approach to facilitating the movement of sport horses, including the formulation of temporary import conditions that would help minimise the risk of trans-boundary disease transmission.”
Media contacts and further information:
For OIE, please visit www.oie.int or contact the OIE Communication Unit via firstname.lastname@example.org
For FEI, please visit www.fei.org or contact Ruth Grundy via email@example.com
About the FEI: The International Equestrian Federation (FEI), founded in 1921, is the international body governing equestrian sport recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The FEI is the sole controlling authority for all international events in Dressage & Para-Dressage, Jumping, Eventing, Driving & Para-Driving, Endurance, Vaulting, and Reining.
For IFHA, please contact Andrew Chesser, IFHA Deputy Secretary General, via firstname.lastname@example.org
About the IFHA: The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities is a federation comprising racing authorities from approximately 60 member countries throughout the world. Every year, the federation organizes the International Conference, which updates the International Agreement on Breeding, Racing and Wagering endorsed by the conference in 1974.
For AFCD, please contact Jenny Tsoi via email@example.com
For HKJC, please contact Andy Clifton via firstname.lastname@example.org
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