Letter: Champs Elysees sale is a stark warning

Owners must be encouraged to race middle-distance horses

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Letter: Champs Elysees sale is a stark warning

Peter Stanley, manager of New England and Stanley House Studs in Newmarket, writes on the subject of stamina breeding

THE sale of Champs Elysees, sire of 17 stakes performers so far this year, is another indictment on our breeding industry. This follows on from the loss of Mount Nelson, who is currently the sixth leading sire by percentage of stakes winners to foals.

Both horses have departed to Ireland to embark on new careers as dual-purpose horses.

What a depressing thought that these two worthwhile stallions have suffered from a lack of support. Breeders are all looking for proven horses who upgrade their mares and yet we have turned our backs on two proven stallions who have achieved exactly that.

We should be under no illusion that this underlines the grave crisis in our breeding industry and the future of the breed itself.

As commercial breeders we are all guilty of following this terrible need for speed the markets dictate, but it will come at a terrible price in the long term. Those of us who enjoy the splendour of the five-day Royal Ascot meeting must understand that in years to come we will be watching a bunch of jumpers competing not just in the Queen Alexandra, but also the mile and a half races as well.

What a shame our Derby winners get forced to compete over a mile and a quarter immediately after victory to prove they are not purely stayers.

If action is not taken very soon we will find ourselves in the Australian situation where their most prestigious race has had only one homebred runner each year for the last five years.

It is the reality of the commercial market that forces us breeders to send our mares to ever more precocious stallions. It is therefore a commercial approach that will be needed to cure this travesty. If owners are to be encouraged to buy middle-distance horses we must make the rewards for those races significantly greater.

If our levy hopes are realised and there finally is more money then that is where it must be directed, not just in the prestige races but all the way down to the lower levels.

Dramatically higher prize-money and owners' premiums for seven furlong and mile two-year-old races, as well as for mile and a quarter and mile and a half races for the Classic generation is the way forward. We need to act before more proven stallions are sold abroad.

The recent trend of retiring two-year-olds to stud is another tragedy for the whole industry.

We must move to protect the magnificent diversity of British and Irish racing – there must be no subsidies, just incentives for owners to race middle-distance and later-maturing horses.

When owners want to buy them, breeders will surely respond by producing them and we will create a virtuous circle of greater soundness, stamina and a continuation of the wonderful variety of races contested at different distances at our festival meetings.

The sale of these stallions is a warning to us all of just how far we have gone with the need for speed.

How frightening it is that this year's Brocklesby winner should be standing for only marginally less than this year's Derby winner.

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