Since Bertrand Belinguier’s inception as President of France Galop last December, change has been the order of the day. June’s announcement of several modifications, including to the qualifications for their €50 million fund of owners’ and breeders’ premiums, has caused indignation amongst several of the country’s leading establishments.
In a bid to help strengthen the bloodstock industry at grass-root level, France’s governing body has announced changes in the assimilation of progeny, a flat rate in the percentage of premiums, and a collective fund to help strengthen the country’s stallion ranks.
From 2014, breeders that wish to have their produce “assimilated” (eligible for premiums but born elsewhere), broodmares will have to be based in France for seven of the 12 months in the calendar, with the window shortened to between January 15 and July 15 for movement outside of the country.
Syndicat des Eleveurs President Loïc Malivet defends France Galop’s decision. “We needed especially to regulate the movement of mares, and these new rules are much softer than they could have been. We don’t want people to abuse the system, and what has been voted is not particularly constraining. That said, we also recognise that we have a lack of stallions at €15,000 and above which makes people want to use others abroad.”
To encourage the use of French stallions, breeders’ premiums have been set at 15% for horses that carry the FR suffix. For assimilated ones, this has been lowered to 10% of prize-money won on the Flat, instead of an overall standard rate of 14% that was in place before.
This new rule has caused a strong point of contention from stud owners and breeders alike. Just a few days after the press release, the Aga Khan Studs resigned from the Syndicat des Eleveurs (France’s equivalent of the TBA), with several other leading establishments taking the same path, including Haras d’Etreham and Haras des Capucines.
Georges Rimaud explains that the farm feels that it was not represented by the organisation any more. “A reform has been voted for which we believe is going to drive France’s breeding industry into demise. By encouraging breeders to use a small pool of stallions, experience tells us that this is exactly the way to do this.
“We have been asking for a number of months to have a study made of the current problems in our industry, and then we can address it properly. The new rules will have little effect on the issues that we face.”
Owners’ premiums have also been subject to further change, with a new flat rate of 64% for two- to four-year-olds, and 43% for five-year-olds and up. These were previously 75% for juveniles, 63% for the Classic generation, and 48% for four-year-olds and above. These new measures have been designed to eliminate the profitability of having older horses in training.
The final change that has been announced is the support of French studs in buying stallion potential. France Galop has offered a short-term loan to help breeders to buy talented racehorses to help improve the quality of stallions. This measure is theoretically aimed at reducing the amount of black-type mares being sent abroad, one of France’s biggest problems.