Questions at the TBA AGM and again at the TBA’s ‘The Bloodstock Market Today’ seminar, later the same month, have brought home the uncomfortable message that the economics of the industry are out of step with our ambitions for a healthy future. These comments from breeders, echoed by owners, have now, thanks to coverage in Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder and the Racing Post, raised the profile of the importance of the production and ownership of the racehorse to a wider audience.

Members will recall that I prompted this discussion with an announcement that the TBA will be undertaking an economic impact study on the British thoroughbred breeding industry and the contribution it makes to the economy. We have now commissioned Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), the major accountancy and consulting practice, to undertake this work.

The study is planned to be in two parts; firstly, to establish the hard data about our industry which is currently lacking and, secondly, to consider its future with any potential risks and opportunities identified.

You may or may not consider that this exercise will be relevant to your operation, but I believe your Association would be failing you if it was not able at least to present those facts, so that you can make your own decisions about the direction that may be best for you and your future.

Work upon this important study is now underway and we are asking for your full and committed involvement. By the time you read this article, the TBA survey should be with you. It may look daunting, but I must stress there is a real need to have hard facts about the industry to hand when we discuss and negotiate important agreements and concessions with government and other bodies.

The attraction of British-sold stock remains incredibly strong, despite the return to owners in Britain lagging behind many competitors in the international league tables

At a time when the government is examining future stud farm eligibility for basic payment schemes, under the CAP Reforms, and conducting a review of equine passports and movement regulations, it is essential that we can state with authority the economic and rural contribution, employment and other important benefits, a healthy and vibrant thoroughbred breeding industry offers Britain.

In addition, it will be helpful to the Board and many of our members, if we can create a discussion concerning the future opportunities that may be presented to us as breeders of the essential racing stock. Without providing a complete or extensive list, this will include the size and quality of the foal production in Britain and the need to provide thoroughbreds to fulfil the British racing programme and the developing markets. Please do give this your urgent and detailed attention. The information you provide will be the cornerstone to our industry’s future. The TBA has a responsibility to ensure that this industry does not stand still. To do so in today’s world is a backwards step. Through this study we aim to identify the challenges and opportunities for breeders which some ten years ago would have been unthinkable.

Heading into the yearling sales season, I recall that 12 months ago I highlighted the increase in the number of yearlings offered at British sales. In 2013 these numbers have risen once again, in spite of a decrease in the size of the respective foal crops. This suggests that the attractions of buying and selling in Britain continue to influence the market heavily. Yet the figure for two-year-olds in training in Britain is at its lowest for ten years.

The attraction of British-sold stock remains incredibly strong, despite the return to owners in Britain lagging behind many competitors in the international league tables. This, in part, is as a result of the TBA and others punching above their weight when it comes to campaigning for the interests of their members, and our commercial partners, in particular the sales houses, are doing a great job. The main attraction is surely the quality of the bloodstock on offer, and Britain remains at the forefront of this highly competitive industry. Please help us to support you to keep it that way.