After two years of exclusion, South Africa is back in the horse export market. The country’s only horse quarantine station was officially opened in Cape Town today. Twenty-two thoroughbred horses are already at the centre and destined for the overseas market.

After the outbreak of the deadly African Horse Sickness in 2004, the European Commission banned equine exports from South Africa. In the years of exclusion, it is estimated that some R100 million was lost. Three months ago the ban was lifted. Given last month’s record breaking sale of an Al Mufti 2YO colt at the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s sale, today’s announcement will be welcome news for local breeders.

The centre isolates horses ready for export, making sure they are not infected with any diseases.

The tireless efforts of Peter Gibson from the Trade Council should be recognised with today’s news.

Ada van der Bent had the following to say in the January 5 edition of The European Bloodstock News:

“African Horse Sickness (AHS) is the single biggest obstacle to achieving access to global bloodstock markets, which is the prime stimulus to growing South Africa’s equine industry. The Kenilworth Quarantine Station in Cape Town,
situated in the ‘free zone’, is the symbol of a technology driven solution to overcoming this obstacle.

In 1997, a four-stable quarantine was built at Kenilworth Racecourse to facilitate the export of London News, who
went on to win the coveted Gr.2 (now Gr.1) Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong.

As the name implies, the quarantine station acts as a barrier between the naturally occurring culicoides midge
(vector) population and the export of horses. The technology is based on positive pressure, filtered ventilation
which prevents the midge from flying into the building. The air is changed at least 12 times per hour. Access to the
quarantine stables is gained via a double entry door system which acts as an additional filter, therefore, further reducing the possibility of midges entering the quarantine chamber.

By 2003, demand for South African horses had outgrown Kenilworth’s capacity and finance was raised to build the
Kenilworth Quarantine Station in 2003. The four-barn, 32-stable facility was completed in July 2003 and the first shipment of horses left for Dubai on 10th October that year. Included on the charter flight were Kournikova (for stud in Ireland), Port Of London (for Hong Kong, renamed Sambuca) and former J&B Met winner Bunter Barlow (for a hurdling career in the UK). Another 66 horses were exported before the February 2004 outbreak of AHS. Amongst them was Graham Beck’s brilliant but ill-fated sprinter National Currency, who finished runner-up to Hong Kong’s sprinting sensation Silent Witness only ten days after leaving Cape Town.

Following the EU’s decision to lift the suspension on 26th October 2006, Kenilworth Quarantine Station, now under the management of Racing South Africa, currently has 22 horses due for export to the EU on Saturday, 20th January 2007. The MEC for Agriculture in the Western Cape, Mr C Dowry, will officially open the Kenilworth Quarantine Station tomorrow, following a presentation by Chairman of Racing South Africa, Adv Altus Joubert.”