The two high profile fatalities witnessed at Ascot and Goodwood underline the jeopardy associated with any full blown marketing initiative to bring people to the racecourse in their droves for the first time. The very public loss of Rewilding was heart-wrenching, as was the loss of Captain John Nixon. Both horses had given pleasure to many and how we as an industry and individuals with a passion for horses can come to terms with our conscience, when horses pay the ultimate sacrifice, is a matter which I felt compelled to touch upon.
John Gosden’s quick, eloquent and knowledgeable response certainly helped those less well informed to come to terms with the situation that unfolded so cruelly in front of them. I would like to put on record my recognition of his swift action and professional intervention.
We have to accept that accidents will happen, but at each stage of their lives, our horses’ welfare is paramount, not least because as horsemen we all want to breed, train and own the best athlete from our efforts, but also because as breeders, trainers, owners and racecourse executives, we share a love and respect for horses.
A successful, durable racehorse by nature becomes ‘public property’ and he does so much to captivate the spirit of racing that drives a nation’s love of the sport. We should be proud of our achievements to breed, raise and nurture, educate and protect our horses from birth through to their racing career and beyond.
John Gosden’s quick, eloquent and knowledgeable response helped those less well informed
It is, therefore, vital that we ensure veterinary research is maintained to protect our most cherished asset. Despite a reduction in income, the TBA has maintained its commitment to funding not only the vital work of the Animal Health Trust, but also additional support for equine reproduction veterinary research. The recent announcement that the Levy Board’s expenditure for 2012 includes an increase in its contribution to veterinary science and research to £1.2 million must be applauded. This may seem small fry in the greater scheme of things, but a positive message none the less that the Levy Board – comprising racing and the bookmaking industry – is united in protecting the very heart of our industry.
Without the horse we have no racing industry. It was, therefore, disappointing to read the inaugural Leaders in Racing Conference outline itinerary which features in its presentations many recent soundbites: ‘Racing for Money’, ‘Racing for the Punter’, ‘Racing for Change’ and ‘Racing the Course’ – but what about the horse? Is he irrelevant to their thinking and, if so, I wonder whether their priorities are in the correct order? Perhaps by the time my thoughts are in print, we at the TBA will have been able to get the message across that these ‘leaders’ have missed the point.
In a September column, albeit penned in early August, I cannot avoid a mention for the 2011 yearling sales season. The much hyped years, with record prices followed by bloated catalogues leading to the threat of clashes in the sales calendar, are now just a memory.
The number of yearlings offered in 2011 has dropped, not off a cliff, but to a meaningful number. We know that these figures will continue to decline, but this year will be one which sets the tone for the industry going forward.
The uncomfortable threat of a further decline in the world economic situation has not come at a good time for vendors, yet those with the right horse will see that scarcity brings its rewards.
For the majority, however, concerns about a lack of orders amongst the agents, and trainers cutting out ‘on-spec’ purchasers, are now closer to reality. It is remarkable, therefore, that this year we will enjoy the full benefits of the not inconsiderable investment in enhanced facilities by the major sales houses, which were ironically fuelled by that incredible growth.