Letter: limiting stallion books the way to go
Letter: limiting stallion books the way to go
Breeder, bloodstock agent and journalist Sue Cameron from Melton Mowbray writes in response to a recent letter from Philip Newton that pointed out that the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association (TBA) and other organisations are working hard to protect the variety of the thoroughbred breed
The response from Philip Newton regarding the problems in the breeding industry was very welcome, even though it came as a personal message rather than from the TBA.
I am sure that, as he says, much good work goes on behind the scenes but the outward impression is always that the TBA is three steps behind rather than two steps ahead of any looming problems.
A good example is the status of fillies: anyone who has bred thoroughbreds over the last 40 years or more knows just what a problem they are.
Despair rather than joy among those who breed to sell when one is born, more despair at the prices at sales and so on. There was a bit of tinkering around the edges a few years ago with fillies' premiums, which made little impact, but the TBA attitude seems to be that all this is a new problem and the ‘Yes she can' move is a wonderful solution. This sort of thing should have been done years ago.
Advising clients who want a yearling to buy a filly rather than a colt was the logical thing to do: they were cheaper, got a weight allowance and, given a reasonable pedigree, ended up with a residual value.
On the other hand, trainers given the choice invariably bought colts as they seem to think they are far less trouble. There was no great incentive to change their minds so the owners new to racing, or even those who had been in for some time but did not realise the situation, had colts bought for them. A bad colt ends up being a bad colt and no more.
Mr Newton also says that stallion book numbers cannot be limited because of ‘market forces'. It is time that serious action was taken in this area, market forces or not. If they go on as they are, there will not be a market. To extend the ‘market forces' excuse, the official ban on AI is an even bigger one but people put up with that, at least in public.
If the Keepers of the Stud Book decided to issue only, say, 150, covering certificates to each stallion, it would make a world of difference. That number is still too many, but would help.
The reduction would make stallion owners more selective when choosing the mares for their horses (always supposing of course that they were looking at the pedigrees of the animals rather than those of their owners!) which alone would be an improvement.
Leading on from the smaller potential income, the prices of stallion prospects off the track should drop somewhat, thus giving more studs the chance of buying into a good horse. The fewer mares allowed to each sire would also release a large number of mates for other stallions than the fashionable kind which are used indiscriminately with sales in mind.
There would of course be an outcry from the stallion owners, but 150 times even £10,000 per nomination is a decent enough annual income and most of the horses in the large-book category stand at considerably more than that.
The Kennel Club very sensibly limits the number of litters a bitch can have registered and it is time the thoroughbred industry took the bull by the horns and did the same in reverse.
Jeremy Brummett's remarks published during the Newmarket Sales show that there are other people conscious of the state of breeding at the moment. He said that looking through the catalogue it is obvious that mares are being wasted by being sent to a huge variety of stallions with nothing in common which might suit the mare but because they are the latest fad.
Perhaps the most telling comment came from John Osborne of the Irish National Stud. Quoted in an interview in the EBN he said ‘If everyone was breeding to race it might all make sense'. How right he is.
We have been reading once again about the too large numbers appearing in the sales rings. If the yearlings which are never intended for sale but are entered merely to qualify for auction races or establish a value were taken out of the equation, that would leave room for people who really do want to sell their animals.
The sales and transport companies would lose some money, but it would make the situation far more comfortable. It is time the conditions for auction races were changed anyway, as at the moment we have the ludicrous situation where horses appear bred by X, sold for Y guineas to Z, but still running for X. Apart from anything else, this looks bad and smacks of sharp practice.
Why on earth a horse that has been ‘bought in' can be eligible for auction races whereas one which has failed to sell is not is beyond common sense. The ‘bought in' value is unlikely to be a correct one so defeats the whole purpose of the conditions.
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