As I take over from Richard Lancaster, I must first thank him for everything he has done for the TBA over the past three years in his role as Chairman, as well as during the many years he served as a member of the board. His knowledge and support has been invaluable and everyone involved with the TBA owes him a huge vote of thanks.
I would also like to thank Chris Wright, who is leaving the board after four years, for his contribution and support, and to congratulate and welcome Anthea Gibson Fleming and Ted Voute after their success in being voted on to the board.
The latest election was a closely-run contest between all four candidates, and the fact that a record number of votes was cast was most encouraging, since it reflected a gratifying level of interest and support from the rank-and-file within the TBA.
Any organisation such as ours is only as strong as the overall commitment of its members. As for the board, its strength comes from diversity, and the recent election has resulted in our gaining the experience and knowledge of a dual-purpose breeder in Anthea and a sales consignor and racing and stud owner-manager in Ted.
They are coming on board at a fascinating time for the industry. The world of racing is always changing and, not for the first time, we are in many ways at a crossroads.
The next few years will bring about substantial changes to the status quo. The potential switch in direct funding by betting operators through the Levy Board to universal payment by way of a racing right, the likely ending of one company having a monopoly on Tote betting, and a combined pictures deal involving Racecourse Media
Group and Arena Racing Company are exciting opportunities.
Every one of these issues will bring a change to racing’s income and consequently its distribution, and that will affect every breeder and owner in the sport. As a shareholder in the BHA and a member of the Horsemen’s Group, the TBA will be involved in supporting and influencing how these issues play out.
From the breeders’ perspective we will look to ensure that the distribution of income which accrues from every available source is imaginative and progressive, and encourages breeders across the whole spectrum of Flat and National Hunt racing. We will also seek to ensure that the Pattern and international competitiveness of our racing is secured.
As breeders we have a vested interest in the race programme and the establishment of a suitable pyramid that leads to meritocracy and the proper testing of our thoroughbreds, so we will work with the BHA and racecourses to ensure that the programme is vigorous and fair, and, particularly for fillies and mares in general and stayers in particular, gives us an opportunity to test them at every level.
As an example of already working closely with the BHA, we have developed the Plus 10 bonus scheme to support breeders and owners, especially those breeding and racing fillies.
Once Plus 10 is fully operational next year, it will be the richest multi-jurisdictional scheme of its kind, offering more than £5.5 million in bonuses in Britain and Ireland. In the meantime, I am delighted that having been introduced at the end of March, Plus 10 had paid out its 50th bonus of £10,000 or €12,500 before the middle of June, and by the end of the month had galloped past the century mark. As well as continuing to promote Plus 10, we must ensure that the generous contribution from stallion owners to the BEBF is used to best effect in encouraging breeders, owners and racecourses to support the race programme that develops the thoroughbred.
I look forward to working with the energetic TBA board, who through our revitalised committee structure will have important roles to play. We will work tirelessly to create the best environment for breeders and to ensure that the rest of the industry understand breeders’ issues and the important and vital role we play in the sport.