Weatherbys wins prestigious HSI contract to develop state of the art ePassport solution

  • 9 February 2024, 15:46

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D during a Horse Sport Ireland Epassport announcement in association with DAFM and Weatherbys at Copper Beech Stables in Duneany, Kildare. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

In a landmark announcement, Horse Sport Ireland has awarded Weatherbys the contract to design, develop, and implement a comprehensive equine electronic passport (ePassport) solution.

This innovative project aims to transform the management, tracking, and welfare of Irish Sport Horses across the country. Horse Sport Ireland and Weatherbys have entered into a significant contract for the development of a new equine ePassport system with financial support from the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine.  The Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine made funding available from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve in 2023 for all equine stud books to apply for support to develop ePassport solutions.

Speaking at the announcement between Horse Sport Ireland and Weatherbys, Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Mr. Charlie McConalogue, T.D said: “The development of an ePassport solution will enhance digital services available to breeders and horse owners alike.  My Department, through the Brexit Adjustment Reserve has made funding available to support the development of such systems which ultimately will assist Irish breeders and owners with easier movement notifications in the future.”

“The implementation of an equine ePassport system is a significant step forward in the modernisation of equine management and welfare practices. It reflects a growing recognition of the importance of digital solutions in enhancing the health and welfare of horses. Horse Sport Ireland have chosen a passporting system with a proven track record within the Thoroughbred industry, which I am confident will also bring enormous benefits to the Sport Horse sector.”

After a competitive EU-wide tender exercise undertaken in 2023 by Horse Sport Ireland, Weatherbys won the contract from HSI to design, build and implement a new ePassport solution for HSI operated studbooks – Irish Sport Horse; Irish Sport Pony; Irish Draught Horse; Irish Cob & Part-bred Cob.  As HSI also provide the passport administration to the Kerry Bog Pony Society, KBPS breeders will also have access to the ePassport system when developed.

Chief Executive of Horse Sport Ireland, Denis Duggan, added: “Horse Sport Ireland is delighted to announce Weatherbys as our winning bidder for the highly anticipated ePassport solution.  This significant achievement underscores Horse Sport Ireland’s commitment to innovation, security, and excellence in the digital passport space. We look forward to the development and roll-out of a comprehensive ePassport solution which will leverage state-of-the-art technology to enhance both security and efficiency of passport operations. It includes a user-friendly interface that ensures a seamless experience for our breeders, owners and veterinarians.  We are grateful to the Minister of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and his officials, for the financial support available through the Brexit Adjustment Fund for this initiative.”

“We are thrilled to have been chosen to deliver this groundbreaking project, with the support of our technology partner, TEKenable” said Russell Ferris, Chief Executive Officer at Weatherbys.

“Weatherbys have extensive experience in the design and delivery of equine digital identity and management solutions, having developed the first of its kind, ePassport for the Thoroughbred sector in 2020.  Our team is committed to delivering a technology platform that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of the equine community and regulatory bodies. We believe that our equine ePassport will set a new standard in the care, management and traceability for the Sport Horse community, offering unparalleled security, accessibility and efficiencies.”

The selection of Weatherbys followed a rigorous bidding process, where multiple national and international firms competed. Weatherbys’ proposal stood out for its technical excellence and proven track record of delivering high-quality digital solutions within the equine sector, namely the development of a similar solution for the Thoroughbred sector in the UK and Ireland, as well as the Arabian Horse Society.

The project has commenced since early last month, with the first phase of implementation focusing on the development of the ePassport’s infrastructure and migration of data from with existing databases. Stakeholders from various sectors, including veterinary medicine, equine sports, and regulatory agencies, have been involved in the planning process to ensure the system meets the diverse needs of the equine community.  It is expected that the new ePassport system will go live during the summer of 2024.