In my column last month I gave my full support to the future of the Horsemen’s Group (HG). This was further endorsed when the TBA Board agreed in October to provide funding to support the work of the HG up to the end of 2013.
Undoubtedly, the HG has been effective in securing increases in prize-money; the tariff may have been called a blunt instrument, and the threat of side-effects in terms of the downgrading of races may not have helped the breeding industry, but these issues were addressed and the outcome has largely provided a much needed benefit to horsemen. Whilst commitments to formal prize-money agreements are long overdue, discussions surrounding prize-money undertakings appear to be underway.
The omens suggest that we can expect an increase in levy. This is a step in the right direction, but these funds must be in addition to the increases we anticipate from racecourses. The principle of focusing on increasing prize-money, to encourage owners to return to British racing, is one we must all support. Prize-money is by far the largest industry concern raised by TBA members in the recent questionnaire and a solution is long overdue.
Closer to home we must continue to act responsibly and share information on disease outbreaks
The confirmation of Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) in a horse at Cologne racecourse (see news, page 20), and Danedream’s subsequent exclusion from the Arc, was heart-breaking for connections and certainly detracted from the race. One lesson learnt was that no-one is immune from the threat of a disease of this nature and, sadly, its re-emergence is becoming more common in Europe.
This positive case was detected as part of a massive tracing exercise extending throughout Europe. Whilst the infected horse was subject to compulsory slaughter, for which in the UK the owner would receive compensation to the value of £1 per animal, we have since learned that the potential for the spread of disease from the original source is considerable.
We asked our advisors what would happen if a positive horse was detected in Newmarket. Would we face similar restrictions? The simple answer is yes. Closer to home we must continue to act responsibly and share information on disease outbreaks, which have the potential to threaten day-to-day movement and, therefore, livelihoods.
One of the TBA’s responsibilities is to be ready to respond to these situations and copies of the 2013 HBLB Codes of Practice for equine diseases will be sent to all members over the next month. However, we must lobby DEFRA and the wider equine industry to introduce measures to reduce the risks of these diseases entering Britain, via earlier detection of infected animals, therefore preventing onward transmission. The TBA’s veterinary advisers are well placed to respond to this challenge, and since my last leader the BHA has stepped in with offers to help aid our political lobbying initiatives.
We can take heart that the yearling sales results which started so positively at Goffs Orby Sale and were maintained through the Sportsman Sale, have continued to provide good returns and clearance rates for vendors at Tattersalls in Newmarket. The effect of the larger Book 2 will be digested in due course, but October Book 1 certainly out-lived its expectations, thanks to Tattersalls’ focus on attracting a range of established and new international investors, who demonstrated a staggering appetite for outstanding bloodstock. In the meantime, these encouraging signs should not be seen as a signal to increase stallion fees. It is still time for managers to be circumspect in their pricing.
When a market starts to return to strength it is worth issuing a reminder that the Bloodstock Codes of Conduct exist for the protection of all the industry’s participants. This process starts with individuals lodging their concerns formally with their respective affiliated bodies. This must be a fair and transparent process and, if complainants are not prepared to put their name to such concerns, then the industry is powerless to take these issues forward.