GAIN Equine Nutrition and Alltech host Ireland’s first Equine Summit
Thursday 9th November 2017
The first equine summit to be held in Ireland took place on Thursday November 9th in the Keadeen Hotel, Co. Kildare hosted by GAIN Equine Nutrition and Alltech in association with Grant Thornton and The Irish Field. A full house of 400 sport horse and racing enthusiasts attended the Equine Summit, the first event of its kind in Ireland which provided a high-level platform for both sport horse and thoroughbred sectors to come together for a series of presentations and interactive panel discussions with equine experts and industry leaders.
The unique event was pitched at those who work in either the thoroughbred or sport horse sector and featured a high-quality line-up national and International speakers and panellists.
The goal of the Equine Summit was to provide a platform to discuss the important issues within the industry to collaborate and bring the industry forward and ascertain how both sectors can work together and address industry challenges and reinforce the importance of the equine industry to the overall Irish economy from an employment, export, marketing and education point of view. Creating jobs, adding value, promoting exports and encouraging young people to get involved from the top down was a theme that rang loudly throughout the day.
Chairman of Glanbia Ireland and Glanbia Plc, Henry Corbally, delivered the welcome address at the Equine Summit. Commending the four companies involved in the day – Gain Equine Nutrition, Alltech, Grant Thornton and The Irish Field – he said: “We realise the importance of supporting the industry and our customers (at Gain Equine Nutrition).“We wanted to provide aplatform to discuss the important issues with the industry, to collaborate and bring the industry forward.”
After the welcome address from Henry Corbally, Alltech’s chief innovation officer and vice president Aidan Connolly gave an eye-opening presentation on the threats facing the horse industry globally who ignited the 400-strong audience with his keynote address- a bold and challenging speech which remained one of the talking points of the day.
Sasha Kerins partner and Head of Agri Food at Grant Thornton, aided by a video interview with economist Jim Power, presented a set of industry statistics which set the scene for the first major discussion of the day. Kerins emphasised how the sport horse and thoroughbred industries must work together and embrace new technologies and changes within the industry in order to retain Ireland’s position as one of the top equestrian nations.
The central theme of the summit, “Striving for Global Excellence” featured a lively debate during the plenary discussion titled “How can we evolve, compete and lead the global equine industry – can we collaborate to overcome the challenges?”. The discussion set the tone for the later breakout sessions during the Equine Summit. Chaired by Leo Powell, editor of The Irish Field, Dr Noel Cawley, chairman of Teagasc and breeder of sport horses, and Ronan Murphy, CEO of Horse Sport Ireland, represented the sport horse sector, and were joined by CEO of Horse Racing Ireland, Brian Kavanagh, and Meta Osbourne, senior steward of the Turf Club.
The lack of a career path in racing was also discussed, along with the ongoing struggle to attract racegoers who are looking for that ‘rock concert’ excitement.
A testament to the events success was the attendance and audience address delivered by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD. In his address the Minister underlined national importance of bloodstock and racing and spoke of the importance of Ireland’s flagship racing and bloodstock sectors at the Equine Summit, Speaking at the event, the Minister for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, said he was “acutely aware’’ of the importance of both the sport horse and racing sectors to the Irish economy and welcomed the Equine Summit as “a high level platform for both to come together to discuss how to enhance and promote the Irish horse, at home and abroad.”
“I will continue to work with and for this sector to secure a bright future for the industry despite the challenges that Brexit presents,” concluded Minister Creed.
Following the Minister’s address the audience broke for dinner. The evening part consisted of two break out sessions which focused on topics specific to thoroughbred or sporthorse.
A lively plenary discussion earlier in the day set the tone as close to 220 people made their way to the thoroughbred break out session and 180 sat in on the sport horse discussion. Another two hours of discussion and debate followed, leaving the audience with plenty of food for the thought going forward in the industry.
For the sporthorse session the discussion focused on the theme “How can the Irish sporthorse sector position itself in a changing market?” and was chaired by Suzanne Campbell, journalist, broadcaster and author. The panel included Lucinda Creighton, CEO Vulcan Consulting; Cameron Hanley, International showjumper; Johann Knapp, Director KWPN Dutch Stud Book and Oliver Townend, International event rider.
Brexit was high on the agenda throughout the day at the Equine Summit and no doubt poses a lot of uncertainty for small equine businesses, breeders and producers
One of the key learnings from the Equine Summit was that Sport horse and thoroughbred industries must work together and embrace new technologies and changes within the industry in order to retain Ireland’s position as one of the top equestrian nations.
A key take away from Leo Powell is that “for once the two sectors thoroughbred and sport horse can work together and put a meaningful programme together to tackle issues of commonality – we have two different sports but the common denominator is the people and the horses, there are issues that affect both” “The message coming out of the event is collaboration, there is a case to be made for the two sectors to be working more closely with each other”
#EquineSummit hashtag was trending as no.1 in Ireland during the event on Thursday November 9th.
“My one wish would be the sector getting behind that happening– operating with one voice and increasing our funding model” – Ronan Murphy, CEO of Horse Sport Ireland
“Working conditions for young people is a problem, people come into this business because they love it. Do not take advantage of that, nurture it as much as you can. Look at increasing your workforce or making it flexible” – Meta Osborne, Senior Steward, Turf Club
“We need to generate alternative sources of industry funding,we need to act as one business and one sector, attract new sponsors and collaborative marketing across all of thesectors. Old thinking is no longer quite so easy” – Aidan Connolly, Alltech’s Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President
“Our pasture is our biggest assest” ,“The other great asset is the enthusiasm for the horse industry in Ireland. We are renowned for winning all over the world” – Henry Corbally, Chairman of Glanbia Ireland and Glanbia Plc