The high quality of horses bred and/or trained in Britain was highlighted during Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend, with five Group 1 winners bred and all but one Group 1 winner trained in Britain. Standards were further emphasised in the latest Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, where three of the top seven and nine of the top 47, rated 120 or above, are trained in Britain. This in a year when 14 of the 30 winners at Royal Ascot carried the GB-bred tag.
These outstanding results bear out a comment in the TBA-commissioned Economic Impact Study, produced by Pricewaterhouse Coopers for the breeding and wider horseracing industry, which summarised the situation:
“Great Britain’s thoroughbred industry is recognised globally for its world-class breeding, training and racing. It has some of the highest quality bloodlines in the world and produces the highest proportion of thoroughbreds in the world’s top rankings of any breeding country.
“Great Britain is also home to the world’s most illustrious race meetings – hosting 24 of the top 100 rated races – which enables the breeding industry to benefit from some of the best competition in the world.”
The report pointed out that, among other qualities, Britain’s favourable breeding environment and excellent infrastructure make it one of the best places in the world in which to establish a breeding operation.
This then brings a valuable injection of substantial foreign investment, along with well-paid jobs, to the rural sector of the economy.
The industry can be justifiably proud of the achievement of these breeders and, with a thoroughbred foal crop that is less than half of Ireland’s and has now fallen below the numbers produced in France, there is little doubt that Britain is punching well above its weight.
Britain’s major breeding operations are vitally important to the sport and to all breeders. If they thrive and continue to improve their roster of stallions, all British breeders benefit.
The increased success of British-bred and British-trained racehorses, not just in Europe but around the world, attracts buyers and, particularly now, breeding operations to this country, again providing more jobs and boosting the economy.
The value of and investment made by overseas-based breeders in Britain, and the potential for more international owners and breeders to become involved here, should not be underestimated.
Great British Racing International, in which the TBA is a partner, has organised and hosted a bespoke, concierge service for overseas visitors for a number of years.
The investment is well worthwhile if just a few of these visitors buy horses in Britain and have them trained here, more so if just one or two then go on to become breeders.
It is worth remembering that in the last two years nine of the top ten owners in British Flat racing were not British subjects. However, many of them have chosen to set up substantial breeding operations in this country.
Clearly, the general quality of British bloodstock and racing is high and the picture is rosy at the top, but despite all breeders aspiring to reach the highest level, this is not always possible for many, so everyone has to work with the material they have and can afford, in the hope of upgrading their horses on the racecourse, always dreaming that the all-important Group winner is just around the corner.
To fulfil this ambition the industry needs support, and I very much hope that this is recognised throughout the sport and that the proposed new Racehorse Owners’ Premium Scheme gains approval in the next few weeks.
The health of the industry depends on breeders of all sizes, from the top to the bottom of the scale, and on rural staff who are so vital at every stage of the breeding process.
One of the great strengths of the industry, to which the EIS referred, is the quality of staff, and any TBA member with a team player who deserves recognition should nominate them to the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, which close on November 20. Please don’t miss the opportunity to show how much you appreciate the work that staff do day in and day out.