Irish sales plunge 62
per cent in two years
SALES of bloodstock at public auction in Ireland have dropped by 62 per cent in two years, it was revealed on Tuesday.
Racing and bloodstock figures for 2009 released by Horse Racing Ireland provided dramatic evidence of just how hard the breeding industry has been hit by the global recession, particularly when coupled with a 28 per cent drop in new owners compared to 2008.
HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: "The most severe decline during 2009 was once again in bloodstock sales at public auction, which fell by 32 per cent to €67.5 million. This represents a 62 per cent decline compared to the 2007 figure of, reflecting an Irish breeding industry now under major threat.
"Horse racing and breeding is one of the few industries in which Ireland is rightly recognised as a world leader, due to its indigenous skills base and the tradition of enlightened Government policy."
However, there has been strong criticism of the recent Government cutbacks in funding for racing and breeding, with Dermot Cantillon, a former chairman of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, telling the Racing Post on January 9: "A continuation of the simplistic view of our industry - that it is a funding issue rather than a major contributor to the rural economy will lead to a terminal decline."
That view was picked up yesterday by Goffs' chief executive Henry Beeby, whose company's turnover has inevitably been badly hit over the last two years.
He said: "The figures demonstrate how tough it has been. The Irish government needs to recognise what the industry brings to the country. We are world leaders of the bloodstock industry. The government has given us a right kicking recently, and if they continue to ignore the industry we won't be world leaders in years to come."
Tattersalls Ireland managing director George Mernagh said the sales downturn followed a "very unstable and unsustainable building boom" that increased demand for bloodstock between 2004 and 2007.
He added: "As for the future, I think the emphasis will be on quality, and that's what I think will get the industry back on track. I am certain there will be a recovery, it might never revert to the same heights again, but it will recover."