Thanks to the ongoing coverage given to BOBIS via the Racing Post and the article in the January issue of this magazine, breeders and owners alike should be familiar with the BOBIS concept and the benefits that this presents.

Specifically it is for racing to encourage owners to run their horses more often and to enable horses to accumulate increased prize-money, and for racing and breeding it is to incentivise racehorse ownership, to encourage owner/breeders to put fillies into training and to encourage mare owners to retain their mares in Great Britain. For commercial breeders there is the added attraction that a registered horse should be more attractive in the sales ring.

We recognise that this is self-help and we are not shy to accept that charity begins at home. Unlike Irish foal production, which appears to have turned the corner, the British breeding industry continues to contract and a stimulus is urgently needed.

Harry Herbert’s tenure has seen a sizeable increase in BBM’s profile and a coming of age

To quote from TBA Board member Grant Pritchard-Gordon’s recent letter to the Racing Post: “This incentive scheme was not introduced to disadvantage breeding industries in other countries. British breeders will still send their mares to Ireland and France to be covered by their stallions, for the resulting foals will still be eligible for BOBIS. Pinhookers will not be disadvantaged by buying a BOBIS-qualified foal, which can be resold in any country of choice and still remain BOBIS qualified. Overseas breeders can send their mares to British stallions and the resulting foal will also be BOBIS eligible.

“Self-help schemes have to be applauded in whichever country they are initiated. No one is being forced to get involved, but any owner, trainer or breeder that actively supports BOBIS will get a much better chance of a return on his investment than by opting out.”

All registered breeders will by now have received a letter and application form for those foals bred in 2011 and 2012 from Weatherbys, and will be aware that registration of 2011 foals is required by February 28, 2013 with two-year-old races starting in late March. This is a tight timeframe for the 2013 scheme but it is very achievable and with Weatherbys as scheme administrators we can be confident that they will ensure this process is as smooth as it can be.

The BHA has passed BOBIS to British Bloodstock Marketing to promote and the TBA will play a complementary role. However, BBM itself is undergoing an internal review and I wish to pay tribute to outgoing Chairman Harry Herbert. His two-year tenure has seen a sizeable increase in BBM’s profile and certainly a coming of age, highlighted by the Royal Ascot receptions which, through his enviable list of contacts, produced two magical evenings at Cartier and Aspreys in central London for existing and potential overseas investors.

Independent recognition by the sales houses of the work undertaken by BBM to increase overseas attendance at sales is another feather in Harry’s hat; 2012 in particular witnessed the importance of overseas investors operating at every sale and level. The proposed appointment of an experienced Chief Executive within BHA/REL to expand this role under the new banner of British Thoroughbred Marketing (BTM) is a positive step. The TBA Board has already expressed a wish to support the expanded role and work of BTM and I look forward to progressing this positive development later in the year.

Progress with two leading initiatives, BOBIS and BTM, suggest that in Paul Bittar the industry, and the TBA in particular, have an ally who recognises the importance to racing of a healthy domestic breeding industry. Coupled with the support we enjoy from the Levy Board, breeders can be confident that the TBA is receiving due recognition at the highest level and this invaluable assistance is benefiting our members.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the mounting excitement generated by the British-bred flying grey Simonsig. His two wins in December provided breeder Simon Tindall with a TBA Breeder of the Month award (see page 69) and the horse himself looks to be one of our most exciting British-bred prospects for the Cheltenham Festival. Roll on BOBIS National Hunt!