Media Centre

John Berry's article
was wrong

REGARDING John Berry's article of March16, he writes as one with what he describes as an 'intermittent' history as breeder, owner and trainer and he bemoans what he sees as the over-production of thoroughbred horses, destined for a career in racing. He appears to lay much of the blame for this situation on TBA Breeders' Prizes, which he seems to believe have brought about a situation where too many poor quality horses are chasing too little prize-money. As a small breeder myself, I believe he has got it wrong.

First, the scale of prize-money awarded on the racecourse has nothing to do with the TBA. If it gives hima problem, he should take it up with the bookmakers, the Levy Board and the racecourses who can, and should, do something about it. The difference to be made by re-directing the total sum from the TBA Breeders' Prize Fund to increase prizes on the racecourse will make precious little difference. Claiming that it will is merely diverting the spotlight from the area that should more properly be illuminated.

The aim of Breeders' Prizes is to encourage the production of better quality racehorses by rewarding the breeders who breed horses that win. What is wrong with that as a concept? Certainly the relatively small amounts that I have received, although marginal in the context of overall costs, have helped me by allowing me to send my mares to a better class of stallion. This seems also to be sound practice.

But if over-production is to be controlled by those other than the breeders, who will impose the numbers to be bred? Anyway the so-called big breeders are not immune to producing horses that are too slow to get out of their own way, but the existence of Breeders' Prizes is not going to make any difference to the scale on which they operate, so by definition it is the small breeders that Berry has in his sights. We are a fiercely independent lot and he will soon be told where to send his theories about over-production!

Surely it is better to let the market sort out those who find that lack of success makes the financial cost of continuing their breeding operation impossible to bear. If they choose to continue, they will have to continue to pay up. It is hardly for John Berry or anyone else to get on the Government bandwagon that looks for still more regulation to control those aspects of our lives that have so far eluded their grasp.

Colonel John Parkes
Seven Wells Down Farm




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