Stansted Airport handles £36m equine cargo as top racehorses head of warmer winter climate

A total of 23 four specially designed horse stalls carried the 72 horses to Kuwait.

A total of 23 four specially designed horse stalls carried the 72 horses to Kuwait. - Credit: Archant

More than 70 elite racehorses valued at a combined total of £36m have been flown out of Stansted Airport following the end of the European flat racing season.

The freight division of Etihad Airways was tasked with transporting the horses to Kuwait where they will spend the winter months training and racing in the temperate Middle Eastern climate.

They were carried on one of the airline’s state-of-the-art Boeing 777 freighters, equipped to accommodate up to 75 horses at a time together with seating for grooms.

On arrival arrived at Stansted, the horses were loaded into “jet stalls”, specially designed with non-slip floors which hold three horses apiece. The stalls were then loaded on to the temperature controlled cargo hold of the aircraft in an operation which took more than six hours.

A team of six professional grooms handled the horses during loading, while on board the flight (visiting them in the cargo hold to ensure they were comfortable and calm) and on arrival in Kuwait.

David Kerr, senior vice president of Etihad Cargo, said: “The Middle East has strong ties to these magnificent creatures dating back thousands of years and, to this day, they are arguably the most precious cargo we carry. In 2016 alone Etihad Cargo has been entrusted to transport more than 1,200 horses, with several more large shipments scheduled before the end of the year.”

Conan Busby, head of cargo at Stansted owner MAG, added: “Stansted is the UK’s number one airport for horse travel and handles many specialist flights every year. Many of the horses taking part in this year’s Olympic Games and the Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations passed through Stansted’s dedicated equine facility.”