New Year is a time to look forward, and following the TBA’s strategy day in December, we are developing plans for new ideas and initiatives that will help and support breeders in 2016 and beyond. In the meantime, it does no harm to remind ourselves what has been achieved over the past year.

The first year of the Plus 10 bonus scheme focused on fillies in Britain, through including Class 5 maiden races for them. More than 185 different individual owners and partnerships and over 222 studs benefited, which means we reached and rewarded a wide cross-section of the breeding and owning sectors.

The National Hunt Mare Owners’ Prize Scheme, known as MOPS, has been a long time in gestation but the wait and effort have been worthwhile

It was encouraging that prices for Plus 10-nominated yearlings and foals were higher than average at the sales, and more than 4,600 of the 2015 foal crop have been entered into the scheme, which represent a 20% increase on 2014.

The National Hunt Mare Owners’ Prize Scheme, known as MOPS, which is intended to help British-bred fillies and mares, was announced at the beginning of December. It has been a long time in gestation but the wait and effort have been worthwhile. With the support of the Levy Board, BHA and Horsemen’s Group, there should be an increased number of females racing over jumps, and the already expanding programme will enable numbers to grow further. MOPS, which will award prizes of £10,000 or £5,000 depending on the category of race, was born from the findings of the Economic Impact Survey commissioned by the TBA two years ago.

Our principal study of 2015 resulted in the Stayers’ Report, which was launched in the spring and was well received, but solving the problem in an ever more commercially-driven sport that majors on two-year-olds is not going to be easy.

The BHA’s racing department and the European Breeders’ Fund have been very supportive. A number of two-year-old maiden races restricted to horses by stallions thar won over a mile and a quarter or more were scheduled in 2015 and up to ten are planned for this year. Attitudes will not be changed overnight, but with the help of the European Pattern Committee and the will of racecourses to support our initiatives, we can make steady progress.

At the instigation of the TBA, the BHA is carrying out a complete review of the programme for three-year-old and up fillies and mares. They are the raw material of the breeding industry and a programme that tests the breed and supports meritocracy, while providing opportunities for females to be raced as often as possible against each other, is vital to stimulate our bloodlines.

With great support from the BEBF, the TBA has also created an exciting structure for fillies’ Flat handicaps that cater for those just below black-type status. More on this at a later date.

On the political side, the TBA has advanced under the tripartite Members’ Agreement, while also representing the horsemen on Racing Enterprises Ltd (REL) and the Betting Patterns Working Party. We have members on the reconstituted BHA Flat and Jumps Pattern Committees and the new Racing Committee.

In Europe we worked with EFTBA and Weatherbys to stop the proposal for dual passports for thoroughbreds, which now allows free movement of our horses for breeding and racing purposes. There is always more on the Brussels horizon and we continue to monitor EU animal health regulations.

Our new structure means the TBA team will be strengthened, which is vital if we are to keep on top of the many issues, as well as day-to-day topics, that are so important to all breeders.

In terms of finance, 2016 could be a difficult year for British racing but by the time those foals born this spring reach the racetrack, I believe prospects will be much better.

Meanwhile, I must thank Chief Executive Louise Kemble and her small team at Stanstead House for the enormous support they give the TBA board and you as members.

Wishing you all every success in 2016.