BBA Ireland arranged for the largest export of Irish-bred horses to China last week, when 76 head were shipped on behalf of Chinese businessman Zhang Yeusheng, according to several Irish news outlets.
A Boeing 747 cargo plane flew the horses to Beijing, where they arrived Jan. 5 with a team of grooms, a veterinarian, and 30 handlers, according to The Irish Mirror, which also reported that loading the horses took three hours.
BBA Ireland has been working for years to establish connections with Thoroughbred owners in China, according to The Clare Herald. The shipment is significant because China had previously imported most of its Thoroughbred racing stock from Australia and New Zealand.
"This is really good business for the Irish equine industry, not least for small breeders from whom most of these horses were purchased," Declan Murray, managing director for BBA Ireland, told The Clare Herald. "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 racehorse. Everyone wins with this."