03/25/2014 11:38AM

Report expresses concern over British breeding industry’s health


The British Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association has identified “alarming and potentially serious issues” regarding the supply base and production of foals within Great Britain, following a report released March 25.

An economic impact study commissioned by the TBA found that the British breeding industry accounts for $464,320,387 per year (281 million British pounds) and 86,000 jobs. The study indicates that many British breeders, smaller farms in particular, are often operating at a loss, which could jeopardize the future Thoroughbred supply for the races.

"This report has confirmed our worst fears," TBA Chairman Richard Lancaster said. "It has identified some alarming and potentially critical issues, the most serious of which is the supply base and production of foals, which are vital to fulfill the Great Britain racing fixtures list. Any further drop in foal numbers will result in a contraction of the program and the further marginalization of racing as a sporting product."

Following the report’s release, the TBA announced that it will launch a campaign to work with the British government, the Horserace Betting Levy Board and the British Horseracing Authority to renew efforts to support small breeders.

"We need a unified approach to tackle this increasing problem,” Philip Newton, chairman of the subcommittee for the economic impact study, said. “Bookmakers understandably want a commercial product in terms of the race program and our role is to help deliver that, which means better support for breeders for both flat and National Hunt racing."

In addition to flat racing, the report indicated that 647 National Hunt, or jump racing, foals were born in Great Britain in 2013, compared to 2,400 in Ireland and comparable numbers in France.

"The racing program depends on significant numbers of imports from Ireland and France to fulfill its daily delivery,” Newton said. “This is neither a healthy, nor sustainable strategy for any industry and urgent steps need to be taken to incentivize and encourage National Hunt breeding in Great Britain."