Self-help in British breeding and racing is an essential factor in persuading government and all other funders that these industries are prepared to put their hands in their pockets to support themselves when they ask for assistance. There is no bigger self-help initiative than the British European Breeders’ Fund (BEBF).

Established in 1983, this is, to my mind, one of the least understood but most vital schemes from which British breeders, owners and racecourses benefit, having contributed directly over £40 million in prize-money, and a further £1.3m to veterinary research projects. This very consistent and worthy organisation will pony up another £2m in 2024, supporting 700 Flat and 85 jumps races.

Where does this money come from? From one source and one source only – stallion studs and owners, who contribute a multiple of nomination fees according to the number of mares covered, based on the average nomination fee, which increases for stallions that cover more than 65 mares.

In 2023, 105 British-based stallions paid into to the BEBF, but although every stud contributes, to misquote George Orwell, “some contribute more than others.” The fund receives big bucks from such as Frankel, Baaeed, Dubawi and Kingman, so although these elite stallions are out of reach for most breeders, they are still doing their bit for everyone in the industry.

Where does the money go? Almost exclusively to support prize-money and influence parts of the racing programme through intervention. For example, the BEBF backed the BHA and TBA 15 years ago in improving and enhancing the fillies’ and mares’ programmes under both codes. This sector urgently required retention through their three- and more importantly four-year-old careers, in the expectation that owners would then be encouraged to breed British. The success of the initiative very much has a BEBF stamp upon it.

The recently introduced High Value Novice Development series is a more immediate example. The partnership between Juddmonte, Godolphin, Tattersalls, the BHA and BEBF, with Levy Board funding, provides a strong argument for retaining a racing programme for what are expected to be high-performance horses.

The BEBF also recognises the importance of the racing pyramid, supporting lower class races aplenty with prize-money contributions that can change a potentially disappointing return to something much better.

Every penny piece that comes into the industry today must be used to influence and change behaviour and not just be allocated to prize-money increases directly. Incentive and intervention via changes in the race programme and specific funding initiatives are the way forward. In this respect, the BEBF has long been a leader.

Now we know what the BEBF does, we should think about what British racing should do to support it. Every breeder and owner have reason to be encouraged when looking at a race title that has BEBF in it, or when an owner’s horse carries a number cloth with the BEBF logo on it, acknowledging that this is an example of British stallion owners helping to make their day.

How do we help? We simply use British stallions wherever and whenever possible when considering our mating plans. By doing so we form a virtuous circle. The more support we give, the more support the BEBF can give, and most importantly we make the investment case for buying and retaining high quality British-breds to go to stud. If we believe that the choice of stallions in Britain is limited, the only way the situation can be changed is by supporting the domestic broodmare band with British-based horses.

When making buying decisions, owners should also look first at the British product, by British stallions bred by British breeders. If we want change and to retain the eminent position Britain has in world bloodstock breeding, we must invest in ourselves and our own industry before we consider alternatives.

Stallion owners have been doing this via the BEBF for over 40 years. It’s important that we all recognise the significant role it plays and be aware of not taking its considerable contribution for granted and support it as it supports us.

The BEBF certainly has my thanks, and those of the TBA.