It is totally erroneous to conclude that the extraordinary prices paid for yearlings at Tattersalls Book 1 sale suggests the bloodstock industry is in rude health.
While it is true the very top of the market may give this impression to the ill-informed, the view that British bloodstock will never realise its potential until it is properly promoted on the world stage continues to be widely held.
It was this belief some five years ago that gave rise to the formation of British Bloodstock Marketing (BBM), whose aim was to fly the flag for British thoroughbreds and promote the industry worldwide.
This was being done very effectively in Ireland and France, where substantial money was being thrown at the promotion of their respective bloodstock industries, but not in Britain, where the usual paucity of central funding provided little scope for what was deemed in some quarters as an unnecessary indulgence.
For a number of reasons there was an absence of any real buy-in to BBM from the key bloodstock industry players. Accordingly, until recently, it has been a worthy, well-meaning body but one that has lacked the gravitas to ram home the message that if you want to have access to the best bloodstock market in the world, you need to buy British.
Acknowledging these shortcomings, there was a move to put a big-hitter at the top of the organisation and, when Harry Herbert accepted the position of Chairman last year, he was universally seen as an ideal man for the job. High profile, articulate and charming, he would have the necessary skills to engage high net worth individuals as he helped to sell British racing worldwide.
Quickly recognising a few simple facts about BBM, Herbert perceived that, if it was to do the important job it originally set out to do, the organisation needed much better funding and a Chief Executive who understood both the esoteric worlds of racing and bloodstock, and also the science and skills associated with marketing.
A growing international demand for horses that have shown decent form can often ease the financial pain for owners wishing to sell on
He also recognised there were two strands to the job. The first was to look inwardly at British bloodstock and for BBM to adopt a sort of concierge approach in facilitating successful relationships among the existing major UK and international players, who might then be persuaded to help with the funding of the organisation.
The second strand was to raise the profile of the British bloodstock brand throughout the world by courting those people who are, or may become, important players within the existing and developing overseas bloodstock industries.
This would be combined with putting on events in the UK that would be designed to inform and impress those foreign dignitaries and showcase British racing at its very best, Royal Ascot being the prime example.
So what has this all to do with owners who operate on an everyday level? A great deal, because most owners know they have little chance of getting close to squaring their racing budget when comparing training costs with income from prize-money.
However, a growing international demand for horses that have shown decent form on the track can often ease the financial pain for owners wishing to sell on. It is those very same owners who, heartened by achieving a good selling price, might then be encouraged to have another horse or two, thereby perpetuating the economic cycle that is so important to British racing.
With its unique history and heritage, our sport should be well served by someone who combines a passion for horseracing with the skill-sets of a marketing person.
British racing should now grasp the resurgence of BBM as a great opportunity and find the money to make it happen. If it doesn’t, then it will be consigned to the dustbin of ‘wasted opportunity’ which already contains far too many unhappy memories.