As Britain hopefully emerges from the Covid pandemic back to something approaching normality, everyone must take stock of the best that has been learnt in lockdown and not waste the advantages that have become apparent, and commonplace, about modern communication.

The breeding and racing industries have been affected as much as any other sporting and leisure activities, although racing has thankfully managed to carry on for most of the last 16 months, even if active participation has been restricted.

Increased emphasis on methods of communication have helped many people through the coronavirus crisis, allowing greater use of modern technology to bring the benefits of travelling less and having more productive time.

During the coronavirus pandemic the TBA has communicated online almost daily with breeders. A glance at the association’s website will indicate how busy this element has been, with 46 news releases clocked up from the beginning of the year to the third week of June.

Content has ranged from general topics affecting all professionals involved with breeding and racing, including updates on Covid-19 protocols, to information specifically tailored to TBA members, such as the announcement of the short-list of nominees for this year’s Flat Breeders’ Awards and the provision of discounted membership of The Friends of the National Horseracing Museum. Interaction will really come into its own when the TBA’s 2021 AGM becomes a virtual online event on Wednesday, July 14.

Providing up-to-the minute information is now so important that the TBA board believes investing in these services and building on the launch in early May of TB-Ed, the association’s online learning platform, is the way forward.

“Increased emphasis on methods of communication have helped many people through the coronavirus crisis”

TB-Ed is a particularly important example of what lies ahead, for it enables us to provide education, best practice guidance and important updates and information on a timely scale. It has already proved extremely popular, offering the first two courses – on pedigree essentials and broodmare nutrition – with video resources and webinars that are free to members. Their online availability offers convenience to studs of all sizes, whose staff do not have to travel to attend residential courses.

Everyone has become used to receiving information online and it is now routine for breeders to record coverings and registration of foals directly through the General Stud Book (GSB) database at Weatherbys.

The smart card recently sent out for registration of all 2021 foals is just the start of a process of moving the passport online, with identification details, location history, vaccinations and veterinary information recorded for every thoroughbred. It will be some time before paper passports are replaced but having a complete set of information about each horse available digitally, without the worry of having to make sure the physical passport is with the horse and is not lost or been eaten by the dog, will help everyone. Losing it will not now be so much of a concern!

Thanks to the enterprise of the auction houses, online sales and bidding for horses has become accepted, and the ability for anyone around the world to see excellent videos and to participate can only strengthen those sales which have adopted the new medium.

Zoom has taken on a fresh meaning and along with other meeting facilitators it has allowed the TBA, like so many other organisations, to function more efficiently without asking participants to drive hundreds of miles to meetings. Similarly, we regularly run webinars that enable us to communicate important information to breeders across the whole of Britain, without them having to leave home. The information is also posted on the TBA website and YouTube channel, ensuring that it is available for those who missed the real-time transmission.

As we move forward, let’s hope we can make the technology work for us and improve all the recording and communication methods we need to operate an efficient stud in the 21st century.