The results from Book 1 of Tattersalls’ October Sale provided the industry with a boost, and helped to generate a strong sale for Book 2. Some vendors benefited but the downside is that for many this outcome will continue to keep costs of production high and project a vision to the wider industry that all is well for breeders.

Fillies, other than those with the finest pedigrees, took the brunt of the drop in demand and the majority were to be found in Book 3. A simple analysis of this feature of the market tells the true story for commercial breeders, with nature dictating that half of their yearling stock is unlikely to cover the costs of production.

Despite encouraging sales results, it remains crucial that we protect and nurture this delicate growth. A well-funded quality race programme will help to retain the vital international interest in Britiush bloodstock, which is a significant factor in the success of this year’s sales.

The TBA and Horsemen’s Group have lobbied the Levy Board to direct £5 million of its allocation to prize-money to the Quality Support Fund, which provides financial incentives to racecourses to stage races that identify and reward quality horses. Despite the decline in Levy funding overall, the TBA maintains that it is imperative that investment is maintained in quality racing in Britain to provide the right opportunities and rewards for owners, which will in time encompass the whole bloodstock market. We need look no further than at the success of the QIPCO Champions’ Day, which illustrated the importance of providing the right career structure to retain, reward and incentivise the production of quality racehorses.

Any further delay in addressing the decline in the Quality Support Fund will threaten the attraction of quality racing in Britain

Through this column I wanted to share with members an extract from our letter to the Levy Board:
“The TBA is increasingly concerned at the effect of the unprecedented reduction in the production of thoroughbreds on the quality and number of future broodmares and stallion prospects in Great Britain. This impacts on production for both Flat and NH racing, but predominantly Flat where British breeders currently supply 52% of the racehorse requirement.

“Recent statistics from Weatherbys confirm that the British foal crop continues to fall, from a high of 5,920 in 2008 to 4,423 in 2011. Further declines are predicted as commercial breeders seek to remove unprofitable mares from their stock. These mares are not replaced.

“There is, therefore, no prospect of an increase in the size of the 2012 foal crop, despite the 2011 Tattersalls Book 1 Yearling Sales outperforming 2010 results. This bespoke sale offering just over 500 lots of the highest quality yearlings in the UK and Ireland attracts a world-wide following and relies heavily on the prestige associated with racing in Great Britain. International investors, many of whom race in Britain because it provides sufficient high quality race opportunities and a programme of supporting races, form the traditional customer base. This situation will only continue if a well-funded QSF is made available in 2012. Any further delay in addressing the decline in the QSF will threaten the attraction of quality racing in Britain, particularly as prize-money continues to fall.

“The only positive area is Britain’s export market for horses in training with form, which is currently very strong. These horses can earn superior prize-money overseas. This is not a new phenomenon and British owners and trainers rely on this valuable market. This market only exists because our juvenile races are extremely competitive, and are crafted from a race programme that identifies and rewards quality racehorses. The decline in the value of prize-money at the top of the sport has been less marked, but should the quality of horses competing in these races, or the opportunities available fall as the QSF reduces, then the export market will be threatened, and owners’ appetite to re-invest in yearlings will be lost.

“Downgrading of the race programme and removal of important races is a short-term measure which has disastrous implications for the future of the sport.”