CALL FROM THOROUGHBRED BREEDERS’ ASSOCIATION
RAUSING CALLS FOR MAINTENANCE OF BREEDERS’ PRIZES
Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA) Chairman Kirsten Rausing stressed the importance of maintaining breeders’ prizes in her speech to the Association’s Annual General Meeting in Newmarket this week.
The Levy Board’s Breeders’ Prize Scheme has recently seen a second cut in funding from £1.529 million at the start of the year to £1.26 million from August 1.
“Whilst we accept this reality, racing and breeding must work together if we are to find a way to move forward,” Rausing told the AGM, this week at Tattersalls.
“The TBA considers that maintaining breeders’ prizes is quite as important as ensuring we have adequately funded prize money, a viable Fixture Incentive Scheme and sufficient resources for regulation and integrity services.”
Rausing was also keen to stress the contribution made - in various guises - by breeders towards prize money in Britain.
She added: “I believe we have finally got the message across that with the European Breeders’ Fund, Racing Post Yearling Bonus Scheme and individual stud sponsorship, breeders are net financial supporters of racing, and this year have provided £3 million in prize money, making breeders the second largest sponsor of British racing.
“That is quite apart from the contribution made by owner-breeders in terms of training fees and other associated funding.”
Rausing also pointed to the current strength in terms of prize money in France, which has a Tote monopoly and the potential impact in the future for British racing because of that.
“At the moment, the only country where breeders are adequately rewarded is France,” she continued. “Others can speak about Tote monopolies as a lost cause, but such commentators need to wise up to the implications of the increasingly unlevel playing field in Europe and the long-term effects on British racing’s ability to stage and profit from some of the best racing in the world.”
Reflecting on the past year, she particularly highlighted the recent success in lifting the ban on the importation of breeding stock from Britain to India.
“Probably the greatest lobbying success of 2009 and early this year was the removal of the Indian import restriction placed on British breeding stock, which has been in place for 15 long years,” she continued.
“This has been a long and fraught process, which I pledged to address in my first speech as your Chairman. It has taken longer than even I anticipated but, led by the TBA Veterinary Committee, we have secured a satisfactory and long-term solution to the problem caused by CEM positive non-thoroughbred horses entering the UK, mainly from Europe.
“Britain’s valuable bloodstock market is now fully open to Indian buyers and through the efforts of British Bloodstock Marketing we will ensure we take every opportunity to promote the excellence we have on offer. At this moment I should also record a note of thanks to DEFRA officials, whose support at the highest levels proved invaluable.”
The TBA’s membership of 2,473 on November 30, 2009, had fallen by 125 people on the previous 12 months and Rausing stressed the importance of bringing new younger people into the business, something that the TBA’s Next Generation Committee has been set up to address.
“As expected, this drop can be attributed to the recession and the number of mare owners leaving the industry. As our membership ages, we face an enormous challenge to correct this trend.
“In response, however, we have, through the TBA Next Generation Committee, put in place a measure to address these concerns and promote the industry to a younger audience. I accept that it will be a number of years before we see any positive effects, particularly as investment in bloodstock requires deep pockets and strong nerves.”
The TBA’s AGM preceded the Association’s Seminar, entitled ‘The Breeding Business - A Year On’.
BREEDERS WARNED OF TOUGH TIMES FOR INDUSTRY
Delegates at the 'Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Annual Seminar at Tattersalls in Newmarket this week were left in doubt about the difficult times the British racing and breeding industries are undergoing.
Speakers such as bloodstock economist John Lynam, Tweenhills Stud owner/manager David Redvers and Paul Greeves, executive director of Weatherbys, highlighted issues such as the worrying prize money situation, the industry’s over-reliance on the Maktoum family, falling foal numbers and the importance of sourcing additional funding opportunities from betting.
Lynam, who has acted as a pedigree consultant to leading breeders including Ballymacoll Stud, gave a talk entitled ‘Breeding For The Future Market - Threats and Opportunities’.
He covered a broad range of topics and - addressing the prize money concerns in Britain - suggested that those who act as ‘layers’ on the betting exchanges should be taxed by the government, as bookmakers are, to provide a new revenue for the racing and breeding industries.
“Who would bother to become a bookie now?,” asked Lynam. “Get a licence, rent a premises, pay insurance, pay taxes and hire employees? No way. Just get a laptop or an iPhone and open an account with one of the exchanges.
“My point is that the exchanges are enabling people to engage in tax avoidance. When a successful scheme of tax avoidance becomes known, the authorities take action to counter it. The breeding and racing industries need the government to take action.”
Lynam also illustrated how reliant the British bloodstock sales market now was on the Maktoum family, a situation he felt was not helpful for the future.
“Just as the Federal Reserve System in the USA, the European Central Bank in Europe and the Bank of England in the UK have propped up the financial system for the last couple of years, the Maktoum family has been bailing out the bloodstock industry .
“The industry owes them a big debt of gratitude for this. However, as you are all well aware Dubai has serious economic problems and it will be interesting to see how much the family will spend at this year’s sales. The pinhookers are optimistic as the number of six-figure foals at Tattersalls increased from 28 to 39 last year. I wish I could share their optimism.
“It is decidedly unhealthy for an industry to be so dependent on one family so it is imperative for the future of this industry that it reduces its reliance on the Maktoum family.”
Greeves introduced figures showing that numbers bred in Britain, but more markedly Ireland, were declining and predicted that the number of foals bred would continue to fall both this year and next.
Based on available data, Greeves revealed that while 5,595 foals were registered in Britain and 10,167 in Ireland in 2009, he expects those figures to respectively be 5,250 and 8,800 this year. In 2011, Greeves believes the numbers will be 5,100 and 8,100.
Registered broodmares in Britain had gone down slightly from 10,740 in 2008 to 10,624in 2009 and in Ireland from 20,038 in 2008 to 18,851 last year.
Greeves projected that the number of mares registered would be 17,000 both this year and next in Ireland, while the figures would be 10,700 in Britain this year and 10,500 in 2011.
In a new and ongoing study, Greeves revealed that Weatherbys had found that 28.6 per cent of the two-year-olds currently in training in Britain were bred by their owners.
British-bred horses made up 47.3 per cent of the 15,128 horses in training in May, with 39.2 per cent coming from Ireland and 13.5 per cent from other countries.
With the rate of decline sharper in Ireland than in Britain, where numbers have stood up better than he projected last year, the important of British-breds to British racing is set to increase.
Adrian Crichton of Weatherbys Bank spoke about prospects for the economy in general and feels there will be no sudden recovery.
“When we talk about whether we will have an L, U, V or W-shape recovery, I was an advocate of an L-shape recovery last year and I still am,” said Crichton. “I think we’re in for a long, slow, protracted haul and nothing I’ve seen in the last few years has made me think otherwise. My overall message is that we’re far from falling off a cliff but we’re just going to have to dig in because the recovery will be long and protracted.”
Redvers suggested that a solution to the financing problems could be for the racing industry to buy the Tote and, through keeping its pool betting monopoly, control a ‘super bet’ similar to that in France.
He said: “Desperate times call for desperate measures and we need to become far more political and more of a lobbying group to get a fair return to racing.
“The Quinte Plus bet in France, where the public pick the first five horses to finish in a race, turns over two billion euros a year of which 150 million euros is returned to racing - almost three times what racing gets from the Levy this year in Britain.
“We need to approach the government and say we have done everything we can but racing is on the verge of going bankrupt. Once you have the Tote, you have the means for racing to finance itself. Now is the time for racing’s trade bodies to start writing to our MPs.”
He said the PMU had betting facilities in 10,500 outlets in France and suggested the Tote should be allowed do the same.
At a lively question and answer panel that included representatives of Britain’s three sales companies and Jane Hedley, who heads the TBA’s Next Generation Committee, concerns were expressed over the leadership of racing in Britain following a question from former Racehorse Owners Association president Jim Furlong.
“I think we’re lacking leadership of the industry at present,” said Henry Beeby, managing director of Doncaster Bloodstock Sales and group chief executive of Goffs in Ireland.
“I felt that when we had Peter Savill in place, we had a leader who led from the front. But my concern is that we’d like to see some more high-profile leadership now. Maybe a lot is being done behind the scenes but we need Nic (Coward - chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority) out there leading from the front.”
Martin Mitchell, a director of Tattersalls, added: “What worries me is that Nic underplays the problems that we have at the moment. A lot more needs to be done.”
The Seminar also included a talk from British Bloodstock Marketing about the group’s work. Despite a limited budget, BBM is using resources well to attract buyers from around the globe. The organisation launched a new Internet site today.
Dr Emmeline Hill, co-founder and chairman of Equinome Ltd, was the final speaker of the day, talking about the ‘speed gene’.
For further information, please contact Louise Kemble, Chief Executive of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, on 01638 661321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org/
TURFCALL’S RESPONSE TO THE THOROUGHBRED BREEDERS ASSOCIATION (TBA) PRADICAMENT.
How best to cope and save British bloodstock from being chucked away by personnel who are 'Bloodhorse Illiterate '? To throw away bloodlines that can never be
replaced, that have taken decades and decades, centuries to build up.
The key issue here for Kirsten Rausing is how best to cope with the ‘Bloodhorse Illiteracy’ factor, stumbling block within government, MP’s, within the British Horseracing Authority itself ( BHA) Paul Roy and Nic Coward etc, ...within racecourse management, and within the gambling section.