Much has been written about the use of drugs for therapeutic and/or for improvements in performance following the two recent cases. The use of anabolic steroids by licensed trainers is outlawed by the BHA. If any grey areas exist where treatment is admissible then it is up to the authorities to address this situation and give clear guidelines. I am confident that this will be undertaken.

The National Trainers’ Federation confirmed that they notified their members in March this year to avoid using a specific veterinary product because it contains an anabolic steroid. No doubt more debate and detail will emerge before my opinion appears in print, but from a breeder’s perspective we must be confident that Great Britain operates on a level playing field, free from illegal performance enhancers, to test its potential breeding stock. The TBA will monitor the situation on behalf of members’ interests.

The TBA’s fundamental role is to represent the veterinary interests of its members

Following a horrendous winter it is not surprising that the 2013 breeding season has been fraught with challenges. A number of breeders are reporting that their mares are foaling late and the weather has certainly affected the mares’ ability to cycle naturally. These factors will increase our costs of production and lengthen the season for breeders, underlining the message that the economics of our industry remain challenging.

Despite encouraging noises from those racecourses who have made significant increases in their prize-money contributions, British racing and breeding continues to rely heavily on its international appeal, as evidenced at the conclusion of the breeze-up sales season.

BOBIS has made a promising start, with the BHA noting positive responses in terms of increased field sizes and an interest from racecourses to upgrade their races. This suggests there will be plenty for TBA members to digest and discuss at the annual seminar, entitled ‘The Bloodstock Market Today’, on July 25. A number of leading bloodstock industry figures will be sharing their thoughts with members and this promises to be a not-to-be-missed occasion which, for the first time, is offered free of charge to members.

The afternoon will be devoted to practical veterinary issues at the sales, and to preparing the industry’s response to the scientific developments which could fundamentally affect the breed.

The BHA Veterinary Committee provides an invaluable opportunity for our veterinary representatives to communicate and co-operate on health and welfare matters. Crucially, it serves as a reminder of the importance that the BHA attaches to the horse. I maintain that the TBA’s fundamental role is to represent the veterinary interests of its members and, therefore, it was extremely useful that the BHA’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Jenny Hall, attended a recent meeting of the TBA’s Veterinary Committee.

The Committee had a number of issues to cover, not least to reflect our members’ concerns that Equine Herpesvirus cases have appeared to increase this year. Working in conjunction with the BHA, we must do all we can to ensure transparency between the relevant authorities in terms of disease surveillance and protocols. I would like to see every channel explored in our efforts to reduce the number of Herpesvirus cases, and this includes addressing the link between breeding stock and horses in training.

In closing, I would like to pay tribute to three long-standing supporters of British breeding who died recently. Reg Hollinshead will be remembered for his legendary racing career, but he was also a long-standing breeder, and Longdon Stud has traditionally provided commercial stallions to breeders across the Midlands and further afield.

Bridget Skinner was a much accomplished small breeder and TBA member for over 38 years. The EBN obituary summed up the passing of her magnificent generation so closely associated with our sport in noting that “she was also one of the last of a collection of British ladies who had small studs, the sort who preserved the Empire”. Finally, David Metcalfe, a great supporter of the TBA behind the scenes, will also be fondly remembered.