A combination of Covid and Brexit is threatening to create massive problems for UK racing in the coming weeks and months writes Floyd Amphlett.
Michael Flynn is one of six greyhound transporters who shipped more than 6,000 racing dogs from Eire to Britain last year. He hasn’t visited Britain since December 20 and is not planning to resume in the immediate future.
He said: “We had a very busy end to last year. I could have done with two vans on the road. I think trainers were preparing for this. But nothing since. The first issue is Covid. My father is seriously ill and I cannot afford to catch Covid with it being so prevalent in England.
“But even aside from that, I am not ‘Brexit ready’. My van is licensed with the Irish authorities, but it is no longer approved in Britain. I will need to get it licensed by DEFRA and the Department of Agriculture.
“At the moment, my day starts of Monday getting all the pet passports and getting them approved overnight. I pick up the dogs on Tuesday from Waterford as far as Portloaise. I get the ferry on Tuesday night, do all my drop offs, get the ferry back on Wednesday night and arrive back home at around 3am on Thursday morning.
“Now I am going have to start using customs clearance agents at both ends of the journey – customs fees are €50 per dog – and the paperwork is going to be horrendous. I will be learning as I go along.
“But it is going to get worse. From July 1, I will need an EOI number and when we arrive in Britain, we will be escorted to a shed at Fishguard where Customs will go through the paperwork and set a valuation on the dog. We will then be charged VAT on their valuation of the dog.
“It will become a six or seven day a week job and it does leave you wondering about the future. I was speaking today to Pat Hehir, who is the longest established of us all, and he was telling me that he is considering whether it is worth carrying on.
“As far as I know, of the transporters, only Lenny McKinnie has been over to England since Brexit. He has been twice which is 48 dogs in total and he came through Northern Ireland. The others haven’t traveled.
“There is already a backlog including some to go back to Ireland. I’ve always taken Seamus Cahill’s dog, and he has one which I have had to put on hold. It is the same with one of the Monmore trainers who is waiting for dogs.
“I can see this being a problem for a long time and will also put people off on this side of the water. I think you might have to rely more on British breeding.”