Tony Morris, ‘the man you can’t ignore’, called me recently to share his delight in the young members of the Newmarket pedigree club, an informal group founded by the late Leslie Harrison, dedicated to debating the merits of breeding theories and practices.

Despite the concerns that the industry faces, Tony was not downcast, because the younger members’ enthusiasm has not been worn down by the factionalism that plagues our industry. In fact, we are lucky to have their keen young minds soaking up knowledge like sponges with a view to developing their careers in the breeding world.

The TBA’s Next Generation Club aims to extend this concept through its committee. As news travels of the Club’s progress, we are reaching a wider audience and helping to create a structure around the interest in our sport shown by the young. This needs to embrace racing and breeding on the widest scale, from the complexities of pedigree assessment to providing direction and further education and training opportunities for students. Reinforcing a social network of likeminded individuals and creating a platform to encourage future investors in racing and breeding are important tasks for the TBA.

The NGC has received valuable support, not only in offers to host visits but also to provide some independent funding to expand the Club. This has really encouraged our committee to push forward and “take ownership” of the younger sector. I believe this is one of our most exciting initiatives and it will boost awareness of horseracing across all frontiers, creating a greater understanding of the breeding industry whilst also developing the theme of mutual respect for all racing’s participants in years to come.
If this is the TBA’s legacy under my Chairmanship I am more than happy to devote time and effort to promoting it. I encourage anyone under 35 to register on the website

Whilst the TBA has focused its efforts in developing the NGC, the opportunity to create a following from the young nowadays starts much earlier. The TBA’s Education and Employment Committee recognised this and through several Pony Club outreach days, co-ordinated by Derek Christopher and our regional representatives, we have introduced racing and breeding to those on the very first rungs of the equine ladder who may be for the first time considering their career and life options.

The BHEST Racing to School programme casts the widest possible net to catch young minds and enthusiasm through its educational activities in support of the school curriculum. Through visits to racecourses and studs by schoolchildren of all ages, the programme has been operating for ten years and some 75,000 schoolchildren have participated. Now that the older complement of children is passing into universities and workplaces, it will be interesting to see if racing can re-establish a connection with those children from diverse backgrounds. This is a very worth­while initiative and more information is available on

April cannot pass without paying tribute to Newmarket’s Craven meeting which provided a feast of racing of which both Tony Morris and his predecessor would have approved. As always, the racing dovetailed with Tattersalls’ Craven breeze-up sale, the only two-year-old auction in Newmarket this year, meaning a slighter larger catalogue than in 2010. Key indicators were slightly down on last year but, following an upturn at Goffs’ Kempton breeze-up, which was helped by its later date, pinhookers have not fared too badly.
With the 2011 breeze-up season now almost over, we can ponder the outcome and the effect this will have on the yearling market. Mating plans for the 2012 foal crop are largely addressed and there is little anecdotal evidence of an increase in numbers of mares covered. Ironically, how we deal with the long-term effects of the economic situation and the inadequate returns to owners will be judged by those same young people that we are focusing on today to attract to our sport.