A major report published by the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association has warned of the “potentially catastrophic” impact to the health of British racing in the medium to long term following the further decline of the domestic breeding industry because of Covid-19.
The report, which draws upon data from sales and Weatherbys as well as a comprehensive survey of breeders and industry reports, has found that the outlook for British breeding, and the supply of horses generally for British racing, has deteriorated further since the publication of its 2018 Economic Impact Survey.
With owners cutting back or keeping horses in France or Ireland for better prize-money and the deaths of three major breeders this year, it states that “there will simply not be enough horses to sustain a racing programme in Britain of the scale the sport has grown used to”.
The foal crop dropped again in Britain and Ireland in 2020 and the report noted that total revenues from sales of unraced thoroughbreds fell by over £70 million last year. It does not believe that the gap between the number of horses needed for the programme and the number being produced can be met by imports from other countries.
A number of recommendations have been put forward for “urgent but carefully considered action”, including capitalising on Britain’s reputation as the ‘home’ of top-class breeding and racing, protecting Pattern races at the top of the structure and providing a diverse and competitive race programme, particularly supporting middle-distance and staying events.