TBA Leader, March 2011

Aiming to ensure our message is heard

In my last leader I encouraged breeders to support the Horsemen’s Tariff, but also noted the need to ensure that the overall quality of the race programme, particularly opportunities for mares and fillies, should not be diminished.

Despite assurances, I remain concerned, perhaps not by the tariff itself, but by the excuse it provides to neglect one of the most important responsibilities of British racing: to support and foster the breeding of quality racehorses. This is the cornerstone of our industry – it is what brings Royal Ascot. the Derby and now British Champions’ Day into the lives of the British public and fuels a valuable British industry.

Through representation on the BHA Racing Committee, the TBA will be lobbying to secure support for additional funding for those races that are important to the breed via an enhanced Quality Support Fund. Traditionally, this has provided a substantial Levy Board fund to aid quality racing and encouraged racecourses to match funds.

The attraction of British racing is its quality, not quantity, and we at the TBA will continue to lobby for this approach. I make no bones about the need for breeders to retain as many formal channels through which to lobby the racing industry.

A recent example of the need for this was the BHA Racing Committee’s response to our concerns about the impact of the decline in the production of horses in the UK and Ireland. These were considered an “over-reaction”.

To identify and address members’ concerns and to express them at the highest levels is a key function of the industry’s trade associations. The value they add to the industry is infinite and should be welcomed as supporting the industry’s power base, and not an unnecessary level of bureaucracy adding duplication and inefficiency.

Of course, we must embrace change and the proposals for the future structure of British racing will need careful debate, compromise and support to work. The racing industry has a complex structure. It is not surprising that it attracts a number of intelligent, high-calibre individuals to its leadership, but they face a steep learning curve before they can be fully effective, and increasingly they have walked away from the challenge.

The TBA’s position as a stakeholder in British racing also strengthens our ability to meet our objectives, to support and maintain the thoroughbred breed beyond the confines of the racing industry, a feature which is unique to the TBA. I cannot stress too highly the importance of maintaining relationships internationally and with our own government, veterinary researchers and valuable equine funding bodies. Change which compromises the TBA’s position could threaten this vital status.

I fear members will surmise that the TBA is in danger of letting racing politics rule our every waking minute. At a time when the structure of racing is going through change, I make no excuses for the fact that we will need to devote executive and board level resources in this direction.

Despite these challenges, the TBA has not neglected its core responsibilities. I am thrilled that the recent stallion parade was a great success and, of course, uppermost in most members’ minds at this time of the year is the start of the covering season.

While many breeders have been hit hard by the recession in recent years and have adjusted numbers accordingly, it is hoped that the number of mares being bred will not fall farther if we are to meet the demands of a busy racing programme. I wish you all every success with finalising your mating plans for the year and with the current crop of foals being born.

The TBA’s Next Generation Committee holds its first event of the year on March 26 at Newbury, which also stages the EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Steeplechase Finale, and our regional representatives have put together an excellent programme of meetings for 2011. Please continue to support this work.

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