We have witnessed a superb first half of the Flat season, with Epsom and Royal Ascot delivering a mouth-watering array of the finest bloodstock in the world, competing to win some of the most prestigious races in the international calendar.

How different these festivals would be without the support of the large owner/breeders. Thankfully, they continue to stand some of their best stallions in this country and we recognise the value of this, not only to the breeding industry but to all those that enjoy our sport.

This year’s round of domestic yearling sales is likely to see an anticipated 10% reduction in the number of yearlings catalogued. Witness the contrast with racecourse attendance on the first day of the royal meeting, which increased by 10% on last year.

The economic and environmental volatility of farming is another factor in the profitability of breeding

Breeders’ costs of production are undoubtedly due to rise again this year. The economic and environmental volatility of farming is another factor in the profitability of breeding, and the thoroughbred is no exception.
The disastrous weather patterns have left paddocks in the South East and East Anglia woefully short of grass and this year’s hay crop will also suffer as a result. Grain merchants are already signalling a poor global harvest, with costs likely to rocket, particularly if the futures market continues to make massive profits on the price of raw foodstuffs.

This is one of the prime reasons why the TBA must ensure that the Single Farm Payments Scheme is retained for grazing land, and that breeders remain entitled to receive these increasingly valuable and essential rewards, for maintaining Britain’s countryside for future generations.

Unfortunately, the timing of the TBA Annual General Meeting on June 28 and the deadlines for this issue of the magazine provided no opportunity for me to reflect on members’ questions, but through this column I want to take the opportunity to highlight the TBA’s key achievements during the past 12 months:

• The lifting of the Indian trade restrictions was definitely the greatest achievement, resulting in an additional £1.4 million of sales at Tattersalls 2010. British Bloodstock Marketing and Tattersalls will again be visiting India this year, whilst a number of high-profile breeders attended the well supported BBM-organised Cartier Royal Ascot reception.

• The TBA successfully challenged HMRC’s proposed import duty on USA-imported stock – saving £5m in annual spend for owners. I am delighted that Peter Mendham’s co-option to the TBA board will ensure members’ interests are protected in this area.

• The TBA Bloodstock Taxation Group oversaw a review and rewrite of the Bloodstock Taxation Guide for the racing and breeding industry. This is a vital reference aid for the industry, and I wish to record my grateful thanks to our team of professionals for their combined knowledge and skills in tackling this not inconsiderable task.

• The TBA will be providing £100,000 in additional veterinary research funding over the next three years. Despite reductions in sales levy receipts, careful budgeting and cost-cutting has enabled us to extend our charitable contributions.

• The TBA website www.thetba.co.uk has recently been re-launched featuring a members’ only access area. In the short-time since the launch we have already seen an increase in membership, as visitors to the site wish to gain access to the valuable new information now restricted to TBA members.

I believe we should be proud of these achievements, particularly as the TBA is also fully engaged in the wider issues facing the racing and breeding industry.

As I stressed in my AGM speech, we will continue to remain closely involved in the reorganisation of British racing, with our priority being to protect the quality aspect of the race programme, supporting the production and testing of quality thoroughbreds, which conveniently brings me back to the success of the Royal Ascot meeting, the flagship of British racing.