Edited press released

Julian Richmond-Watson stepped down following an eight-year tenure as Chairman of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association at the 106th annual general meeting held on Friday  with a rallying call to British racing, saying: “Bold decision-making intended to arrest the decline in racing’s fortunes is essential if we are to move forward.”

Addressing members and trustees, past and present, who gathered in the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket to pay tribute to the longest-serving chairman since the office was introduced in 1962, Richmond-Watson added: “The TBA is a member of the Thoroughbred Group and will work wherever possible to advance the position of those involved with horses, their ownership and welfare.

“Of course, prize-money is the key to unlocking so many of these issues. Prize-money is not high enough in this country, and the obvious discrepancy between what the betting industry pays to the sport and how much the participants receive must be addressed, so that the income coming into racing is fairly shared. “

On the more specific issues faced by breeders, Richmond-Watson said: “We have to focus on these ourselves. There is very little understanding of breeding within racing and the supply of racehorses is taken far too much for granted. It is up to the TBA to make sure our issues and are constantly brought to the fore.”

Richmond-Watson pointed to two particular topics that have occupied the attention of TBA trustees and executives, saying: “There is an enormous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes and, as shown by Brexit and Covid, contacts developed along the way are vital when we need to be in touch with the important decision-makers.

“The carry-over from Brexit continues, and while we have had successes with the Treasury on VAT for temporary imports into this country, our trading partners in Ireland and France have still to sort this issue, so that transport and inspection-post issues, as well as increased costs, are still to be resolved.

“We have also seen recent positive steps made with the Migration Advisory Committee adding three stud roles to the Shortage Occupation List in their recent report and we must now continue to lobby government for this to be formally sanctioned.”

The meeting’s official matters of business included the approval of the minutes of the previous AGM, re-election of the auditors, confirmation of membership fees for 2024, and the appointment of trustees.

It was formally announced that Philip Newton will become Chairman of the TBA with immediate effect, supported by Kate Sigsworth who will become Deputy. Philip has been on the board since 2012, while Kate joined in 2020.

It was also confirmed that James Crowhurst would continue as a co-opted trustee for a second term to support the TBA’s vital work on equine health and welfare.

Finally, the two successful candidates for the vacant positions on the board of trustees following the election were also announced with Will Kinsey appointed as a new trustee, whilst Tom Blain returns to the board for a second term.

The 2022 Annual Report was formally launched, with highlights including:

  • Commissioning of the Economic Impact Study, the findings of which were published in January 2023.
  • Ongoing positive impact of the Great British Bonus scheme (GBB) managed by the TBA on behalf of the industry with a 16.3% increase in median value of British bred fillies reported since scheme launched in 2020.
  • Continued development of TB-ED, the TBA’s online platform, and on the recruitment and retention of employees on stud farms with 67% of students enrolled in the E2SE programme remaining employed in the industry.
  • Launch of TBA Access membership.

Richmond-Watson said: “Evidence-based strategies have been at the heart of the TBA’s work since the initial study in 2014, providing a sound basis for areas of focus in our work to support breeders and the industry as a whole. The results of this study will lead to some re-alignment of plans to ensure we continue to work on activities that deliver the greatest positive impact to our sector.”

Looking ahead, the AGM also included a presentation by incoming chairman Philip Newton on implications from the Economic Impact Study and next steps, as well as an introduction to the TBA’s Stud Farm Carbon Calculator by Victoria Murrell, the TBA’s Equine Health and Welfare Manager and Sarah Wynn and Sola Samuel from ADAS who are developing the software, and which is due to launch in November 2023.

Richmond-Watson concluded his address by thanking trustees, executives, and members for their support, saying: “We have been through some interesting times but hopefully I leave you in good order, but of course with plenty to do. And Philip Newton, thank you for being such a supportive and challenging deputy chairman.

“We have worked incredibly well together, and I wish you all the best as you take the TBA forward.”