As the voice of British thoroughbred breeders, the TBA board and committee members also have to be keen listeners, not only to what grass-roots colleagues are saying but also to what everyone else in the sport is thinking.
Our championing of the new Plus 10 bonus scheme and close monitoring of the proposed BHA restructuring are examples of both positions in practice.
Plus 10, which will amalgamate the British Owners and Breeders Incentive Scheme (BOBIS) and the Racing Post Yearling Bonus Scheme when it is fully operational in 2016, has been created as a result of listening to what commercial vendors, most notably breeders, had to say, namely that there were too many incentive programmes.
In addition, concerns were expressed that BOBIS was alienating the Irish breeding industry, and Plus 10 goes a long way to dealing with this aspect.
There are some 2,500 small breeders in Britain, and the whole of the sport relies on their participation
You are never going to satisfy everyone, because as far as breeders are concerned – from owner/breeders to commercial operators – we all have our own objectives, which are not always lined up in the same direction, and compromise invariably upsets someone. But the great thing about Plus 10 is that its development shows we can listen and act.
A number of people said we should have a British-only scheme, which did not include the Irish, but in the interest of having just one scheme, we have spoken to Irish breeders and welcome the degree of co-operation they have shown
As a result, Plus 10 represents a sensible, workable compromise, which recognises the historic and commercial links between the bloodstock industries of Britain and Ireland, and streamlines the marketplace as far as incentive schemes played out on the racecourse are concerned.
It also sits well with Tattersalls, Goffs and DBS, and provides a clear reflection of the international world in which we operate, showing that Britain and Ireland do have to stand together sometimes.
The one unfortunate aspect of the introduction of Plus 10 was that, despite the best efforts of the TBA, it was not possible to get the scheme launched in time to have specific details about eligible yearlings printed in the Doncaster sales catalogues. Time lines were critical, but due to circumstances outside the control of the TBA and the sales company, they were not met.
Although regrettable, this delay will not do lasting harm, since Plus 10 will evolve over the next 18 months, as it operates alongside BOBIS next year before standing alone in 2016, as the Racing Post Yearling Bonus Scheme is also gradually phased out.
As Plus 10 settles in and starts to pay bonuses of £10,000 or €12,500 to a wide range of worthy winners, the contributions from such as the BHA, the Levy Board and HRI will be a tangible demonstration of the way that the various facets of British and Irish racing can co-operate to best effect.
The TBA looks forward to playing its part in future developments, none of which may be more significant than the restructure of the BHA itself. The more that each section can work together the more likely we are to come up with realistic answers to tricky decisions.
Much of the work has so far been conducted away from the public gaze, but the TBA board and committees are playing their part, and will continue to be involved and contribute to the debate.
The BHA’s position on licensing means that some sectors – trainers and jockeys, for instance – are subject to certain controls that by the very nature of the exercise do not cover those involved in breeding, and this applies throughout the world.
There are some 2,500 small breeders in Britain, and the whole of the sport relies on their participation. We must be watchful of restrictions being placed on them, because if costs go up, they will be driven away in significant numbers. Whatever transpires over the coming months, we will be robust in defence of the breeders’ position.