In an in-depth report published by the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association on Tuesday, the organisation has warned of the ‘potentially catastrophic’ impact on British racing in the medium to long term as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Breeding Industry Report measures the state of health of the British breeding industry between the publication of the Economic Impact Study, commissioned by the TBA in 2018, and the immediate aftermath of the consequences of coronavirus.
It has used data from thoroughbred sales, a survey of breeders and industry reports, as well as information provided by the secretariat at Weatherbys.
One of its main findings outlines that the impact of the pandemic is likely to accelerate the projected scale and rate of decline of an industry that is already facing serious challenges.
It states: “Whilst in the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic the impact on racing will arise from its effect on owners, unable to support as many horses in training, and by the exodus of horses in training to France and Ireland, where prize-money levels have been more resilient, the long-term damage is most likely to be caused by its impact on breeders.
“This could be exacerbated by changes in the ownership structure of three of the five major breeding operations, due to the loss of their founders in the early months of 2021. As a result, there will simply not be enough horses to sustain a racing programme in Britain of the scale the sport has grown used to.”
Several recommendations are made by the report including capitalising on Britain’s international reputation for breeding and racing, ensuring a competitive and diverse racing programme and improving he viability of the British breeding industry.
It also recommends united industry action to achieve urgent reform of how the Levy is funded, getting behind industry-wide efforts to increase racehorse ownership and the consideration of initiatives that have worked in other countries.
TBA Chairman Julian Richmond-Watson said: “Since the publication of the TBA Economic Impact Study of 2018, we have delivered a number of projects as part of our strategic plan to improve the environment for British breeders and the breed.
“It was great to see the Great British Bonus implemented in time for the return of racing in June last year to provide the much-needed support to investors of British bloodstock.
“Throughout 2020 we actively monitored the situation, collecting data from various sources to assess the potential impacts on our industry. Today’s report provides evidence that some of the trends first highlighted in the 2018 study have unfortunately been accelerated by the events of the last 12 months.
“Although the GBB scheme is showing early signs of success, it alone cannot resolve all of the industry’s issues. The report provides recommendations for future recovery, and we hope that our industry partners will support us for the long-term benefit of the sport, its horses and people.”