Seven horses bound for Rolex became the first to use a new import quarantine facility in Chicago when they flew in to O’Hare International Airport direct from England yesterday. Horses traveling to Kentucky or other midwest locations from overseas used to have a much longer, more strenuous trip, but the new import facility drastically reduces travel time. Simon Glennie and Matt Haug, the masterminds behind the new Chicago Import Quarantine, fought for 10 years to permit horses to fly in to a location other than New York, Miami or Los Angeles, the only approved import quarantine facilities in the U.S. until now.
“There was a special exception made for racehorses coming in to Chicago for the Arlington Million in August, but that was the only time horses were ever allowed to fly in to Chicago,” Simon said. “When we first started campaigning for this, I said it would take nothing short of an act of Congress to get this approved. But we ultimately received a blessing from the USDA in Chicago.” The new import quarantine barn is at Arlington Park Racetrack just 20 minutes from O’Hare and has been fully renovated to provide comfortable facilities for horses after their overseas flights.
To give you an idea of just how critical it is to have this new import quarantine facility from a horse welfare standpoint, consider the difference in travel time from England to Kentucky before horses could fly into Chicago. Horses traveling from Europe to Rolex in years past would have to van across England, ride a ferry to cross the North Sea, van into the continent to Liege near Brussels, fly to New York, van three hours to upstate New York to the quarantine facility and then take a 16-hour van trip down to Lexington.
Thanks to the new Chicago Import Quarantine, horses traveling from England can now fly British Airways direct from Stansted Airport north of London right into Chicago. The van ride from O’Hare to the import quarantine at Arlington Park is just 20 minutes, and then the horses have a much shorter six-hour van ride down to the Kentucky Horse Park. “We feel that the proximity of Chicago to Lexington as opposed to upstate New York will be a big factor for the horse industry, not just for eventers, but also for the Thoroughbred racing trade. We hope this will be beneficial for the industry across the board.”
Kudos to Simon and Matt for fighting this battle for more than a decade to allow horses to fly into Chicago year-round. It’s wonderful that some of the best event horses in the world were the first to use this new facility — William Fox-Pitt’s Chilli Morning and Seacookie TSF, Andrew Nicholson’s Quimbo and Calico Joe, Jonelle Richards’ The Deputy and Austin O’Connor’s Ringwood Mississippi. The horses are currently resting in quarantine in Chicago and will van down to Kentucky upon being released. Many thanks to Hallie Glennie for tipping us off to the new Chicago Important Quarantine, which will soon have a website live at www.ciqord.com. Go Chicago, and Go Rolex.