Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - Rebecca Radley
The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA) has put forward plans for the racing industry to back a new racehorse owners’ premium scheme, based on rewarding British-bred produce, following today’s publication of the British Thoroughbred Breeding Industry Economic Impact Study 2018.
The study was commissioned by the TBA from world-renowned analysts PricewaterhouseCoopers. It follows the lines of a similar exercise conducted in 2014 and has the benefit of being able to draw on trends, which demonstrate that although Britain has a world-class racing industry, the economics of thoroughbred breeding need reversing through increased demand at public bloodstock sales.
The EIS notes: “To safeguard the British thoroughbred breeding industry and ensure its future sustainability, direct intervention is required to increase the financial returns to breeding. Without it, the current level of supply will not be maintained; Britain will not be able to sustain its racing calendar, and the finances of all racing industry participants will be severely impacted.”
The TBA’s proposal, the first of several being developed over the coming months, faces up to the reality that without horses and those who breed, own and race them there would be no racing, and aims to create a virtuous circle around breeding horses in Britain, owning them and finally returning them to stud.
It builds on two existing initiatives, the Plus 10 programme on the Flat and the National Hunt Mare Owners’ Prize Scheme (NHMOPS) for jump racing, with the major difference that bonuses will be wholly focused on British-based criteria.
The major element of the proposal is a scale of bonuses for nominated foals out of British-based mares, graduated according to whether they are visiting British-based or overseas stallions. Around 850 races for two- and three-year-olds and a further 150 fillies-only races on the Flat and about 1,900 jump races will carry bonuses, and it is envisaged that substantially higher prizes will be offered than at present.
The TBA believes there is an urgency about the need for action, and that timing is crucial if the breeding industry is to remain robust and future-proof, especially as the EIS notes that “Brexit presents a disruptive challenge.”
The TBA wishes to thank the HBLB and Racing Foundation for their financial support of the EIS and all of the individuals and organisations who contributed to the report.
Major points from the EIS:
In 2017, the thoroughbred breeding industry contributed £427 million to the British economy, supporting more than 19,000 jobs, and around 87% of the direct economic impact accrued to the rural economy.
The number of broodmares has increased by around 500, to 9,000, since 2013, and the number of foals born annually has gone up from 4,420 to 4,778 in the same period.
However, industry profitability has deteriorated significantly; 66% of breeders surveyed in 2017 were unprofitable, compared with 45% in 2013.
353, or 8%, of breeders have left the industry in the last five years.
Polarisation of small and large breeders is growing, as evidenced by yearling sales’ returns, which show that the average filly sold at Tattersalls’ Book 1 auction made an estimated profit of £118,000, but those sold at Book 3 showed an estimated loss of £23,500.
One-third of British-bred foals are produced by breeders with one or two mares, but their numbers have declined by 5% since 2013.
Since 2012, Britain’s thoroughbred trade deficit has almost doubled, as the value of imports has grown at a faster rate than exports.
More than 25% of stud farms have skills gaps, compared to 14% of businesses nationally.
Julian Richmond-Watson, TBA Chairman
On the EIS….
“The EIS results show that although we have a world class industry the economics of breeding thoroughbreds simply isn’t working. In the last six years our trade deficit has almost doubled, with imports growing at a faster rate than exports. We need a system to encourage and promote British breeders and their bloodstock, to create a favourable environment for them to operate.
On Industry growth…
“We are prioritising the long term health of the industry. As part of the BHA’s Strategy for Growth we have established a Breeding Strategy Group and the EIS is part of this group’s work. The EIS results will inform and guide future activity for a stronger industry.”
On proposed solutions to issues raised by the EIS….
“The proposal for a British Bred Premium Scheme is one of a number of solutions which the TBA will be working on to improve returns for British breeders and racing. The concept of the scheme builds on the successes of Plus 10 and NHMOPS, but with further support for segments of the horse population such as stayers and fillies.”
Claire Sheppard, TBA Chief Executive:
On the EIS…..
“We are incredibly thankful for the financial support from the HBLB and Racing Foundation for the Economic Impact Study. The results will assist not just breeders, but the industry as a whole and will help shape the strategy for a more sustainable future for the sport.”
On the proposed BBPS…
“We hope that this report will kick-start industry wide conversations about the future growth of the sport. Breeders are an essential part of racing’s ecosystem, and we need to work together to develop a system that works for industry participants. If we provide a favourable environment for British breeders to operate we will ensure the supply of high health and high quality bloodstock for British racing’s future.”
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