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Breeders' prizes ensure UK stallions are used

I write to express my strongly held view that Breeders' Prizes are a very valuable incentive for owner breeders such as myself to continue to keep our broodmares in the UK and to use UK-based stallions wherever possible. Breeders' Prizes must be protected and not reduced despite the difficulties the HBLB is currently experiencing with funding.

The United Kingdom can be justly proud of establishing the thoroughbred industry more than 300 years ago. From small beginnings this industry spread throughout the world creating many thousands employment opportunities and providing great entertainment. In my view it is vital for this country that we maintain this rich heritage and provide every opportunity for it to flourish.

 I am a small owner breeder with five broodmares. Over the last 12 years I have bred some 40 foals, mostly National Hunt. We haveused a number of UK-based stallions enjoying some success with Sir Harry Lewis, from whom I bred Burntoakboy, winner of the Coral Cup, Carole's Legacy an Aintree Festival winner and Spaghetti Junction. From Kayf Tara I have bred Mad Max an Ascot Winner and one of the top-rated novice hurdlers. Alflora has produced me Aegean Dawn who was a very impressive bumper winner earlier this year.

 Without the attraction of UK breeders' prizes it is almost certain that in the past my mares would have gone to one of the Irish stallions such as Strong Gale, Be My Native and Roselier. These sires all had a reputation for producing a more commercially attractive product for the sales than UK sires.

UK breeders' prizes gave me the incentive to use UK stallions and to give them the opportunity to show their capabilities. The result speaks for themselves, although Irish Stallions continue to dominate the NH leading sires' table this is largely due to the fact that they cover massive books and therefore have many more runners on the ground. Closer examination of the table, when winners to runners ratios are compared, reveals that the UK has absolutely top class NH performers in the shape of Kayf Tara, Sir Harry Lewis and Hernando.  

Having won a number of breeders' prizes over the last few years I have reinvested all the prize-money received in the best quality UK stallions I can obtain. Breeders' prizes are an important source of income for UK breeders without this incentive I fear that we will continue to see a declining stallion base in the UK.

 With regard to the argument that breeders' prizes are a stimulus to overproduction I would point out that I have taken the decision to establish and run my stud as a loss-making hobby which I thoroughly enjoy. The loss of breeders' prizes would not make me reduce my broodmare band, it would however significantly effect the decision as to which country I base my mares and purchase stallion nominations from, France and Ireland would certainly come into consideration.

 It is also worth noting that on the Flat the UK has some excellent results based on winners-to-runners ratios. There are top-class performers such as Pivotal, Hernando, Green Desert and Cadeaux Genereux. These stallions deserve the support of the breeders' prize fund.

 Some might put forward the view that breeders' prizes are an unfair advantage under EEClegislation, maybe they are, but look how attractive these prizes are in France, so to this charge I would reply that at last we are putting the UK first, what a pleasant change!

Paul Murphy
Wychnor Park Stud





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