Weblog: Not-so-secret agent
Ongoing drug saga puts US breed at risk
THE result of the recent HK Group-1 Mercedes Benz Hong Kong Classic Cup in Hong Kong brought back memories of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2009 when we purchased a Street Cry yearling colt on behalf of Saeed Manana.
At that point, the European appetite for American bred yearlings remained fairly strong, although perhaps not to the same levelsas twenty years previously when the Coolmore team were correctly targeting the future breed-shaping progeny of Northern Dancer.
Our Street Cry colt was named Zaidan, went on to win the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot the following year and following his sale to Hong Kong he has now progressed into a serious Group-1 performer. The female line of Zaidan's pedigree is
full of European black type and in my view it is the brilliance of the American stallion combined with the soundness and toughness from the European broodmare that provides the interesting mix.
The yearling sales in the USA have been noticeably less well attended by European buyers in recent years and one of the principal reasons for this is the soundness issues from which some American-bred yearlings suffer.
It was therefore with great disappointment that I read last week that the decision to ban the use of medication in all two year-old stakes races in the USA was reversed after complaints from horsemen. I have read that some parties are basing their
complaints on the fact that betting revenue and racetrack attendance will not benefit from the rule change which is difficult to deny, however they are missing the point.
The American breed has been developed over the last twenty years from stallions and broodmares who have raced on medication. This has of course masked different soundness and bleeding issues and allowed horses to win major races that may not have been able to do so without medical assistance.
The use of medication as part of the USA training regime is so engrained in trainer's psyche that it of course requires a marked and difficult change for medication tobe outlawed,
but unless the authorities stick to their guns, the American breed will continue to decline.
Us Europeans would travel to Kentucky to source the best bloodlines thirty years ago, now the role is reversing and Iexpect an increasing number of American buyers to attend the European yearling sales over the coming years.
Our office is full of contracts and mare forms at the moment for the stallion nominations that we book for client's mares. It still astounds everyone in our office that in this era of high-tech
systems and software, mare owners and their agents are still required to complete onerous and lengthy mare information forms every year when the majority of the information on the form is exactly the same as the previous year when the mare visited a different stallion.
No doubt it is an issue of funding, but surely it would be a worthwhile investment for the TBA to team up with the Stud Book department atWeatherbys to develop an online database that retains the information on mares and can simply be easily updated each year. It would certainly markedly reduce the large quantities of paperwork that are currently necessary for the large number of nominations that we book.