Media Centre

Osborne answers
Bonus questions

A NUMBER of questions concerning the Racing Post Yearling Bonus have emerged over the last week. Consignor and committee member John Osborne provides the answers

When was the scheme conceived?
Discussions began between vendors in January 2009

What prompted the discussions?
Admiration for the Breeze-Up Bonus, concern for the forthcoming yearling sales, a desire to reward successful owners since existing prizemoney levels fall short of our international competitor countries

Who was involved?
Many and varied vendors on both sides of the Irish Sea

Racing Post Yearling Bonus Logo

Why did we not hear about it before now?
Discussions were open and honest, opinions were varied. A couple of early attempts to have a public forum were disappointing as they made it obvious that we would not arrive at formula which satisfied the maximum number of interested parties. We felt it was more important to build a consensus which was solid, which had Sales Company support, which had formal backing of theTBA and the ITBA and which could then be opened up for vendor approval or rejection.

Was this fair to the vendors?
We felt that it was better to present a scheme which was workable within the short time available. The alternative would have been more "democratic" but was more likely to miss the time deadlines and so could not happen in 2009.

Why not wait?
This has been suggested. Again we felt it was worth pressing on, in the full knowledge that the vendors could reject the scheme. If we did not reach our target for nominations we were prepared to fold it up and try again next year. As it happens we are overwhelmed by the support the scheme has gathered.

How many vendors are in? 
We will know exactly by the deadlines of July 1st for DBS St Leger yearlings and July 15th for the other sales. The feedback we have is that we will reach our target of 2000 yearlings, and quite possibly exceed it.

What is the maths?
Vendors nominate the yearling by paying £250 up front and committing to a further £250 deduction from proceeds at sales time. The end user will pay £250 to retain eligibility, so each yearling will have contributed £750 to the scheme.

Wecalculate that this will  pay for 150 bonuses of £10,000 to the owners of winners of selected maiden races.

Where are these maiden run? 
The bonuses will attach to existing races run over all trips and most tracks in Britain, Ireland and with some bonuses abroad also. The objective is to stimulate trade. We want to include the maximum number of yearlings and we feel that the scheme should try to have something for everybody, so the 5f April maidens will be well supported, but bonuses will also attach to late season maidens to reflect the reality that many of the yearlings will not make their debuts until later on.

What about three year olds?
While some favoured supporting 2yo races only, it was felt that we ought to reserve a small proportion of bonuses to attach to early season 3yo  maidens. This means that yearlings in all sectors of the market have a chance of claiming a bonus.

Would it not be better to just allocate the bonuses on a first-come-first-served basis like the breeze-ups? 
Some would agree, but more would disagree. If the perception is that the bonuses will only reward the sharper two-year-olds then we felt that the pool would be smaller and have less impact. The bigger the pool, the better for everybody. The more yearlings that are nominated then the more we have to shout about. And remember, every penny of nomination money goes to bonuses.

So how are the bonuses allocated?
We have committed to allocate 90 per cent of the bonuses to the 2yos, and we want the maximum impact before the yearling sales of 2010 so most of the bonuses will be won before the sales next year. However there will be an allocation to the back-end maidens also. The bonuses will attach proportionately to races run over all trips and we will distribute them to as many tracks as is practical.

Sounds complicated, was there no simpler way? 
We need to attract the maximum number of yearlingsand to reward owners at all levels of the market so it is worth making the effort to distribute the bonuses equitably. However we feel that next summer should have lots of "good news stories" in the run-in to the sales. So the biggest proportion of bonuses will have been won by then.

What about the owner breeders?
We concentrated on sales yearlings this year. We need to stimulate trade. It may be possible to broaden the scope of the scheme in future years and we feel that this year's work is merely the foundation for greater work in the future. This scheme can grow and develop with the support of the entire bloodstock and racing community.

Why not fund it with a percentage of the value of the horse? 
This has been investigated. We felt that we could not interfere with the TBA's mechanism for funding itself from a sales levy. To impose another levy was likely to be penal and resisted. There was a danger that there would be drift from the TBA to the scheme, thus undermining its finances. We have tried at all times to harness support, not to create division.

The Breeders Cup works differently, why not imitate it?  With the Breeders Cup the nomination is made for foals. There is a huge take-up and the fund is able to support the Big Day but also to sponsor a wide series of stakes races, thus rewarding quality. It would be nice to think we could emulate their success, but we felt we ought to concentrate on a trade stimulus package this year.












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