Best of my hopes for 2010
Oliver Gaisford-St. Lawrence, bloodstock agent
The same hope that all of us have had for a few years - that the various factions of the racing industry can finally pull together and find a common solution to drive this industry forward in the 21st century.
Hearing that Racing UK and Attheraces are selling overseas rights jointly is heartening but we really need the bookmakers and racing to reach an agreement on how this industry can be correctly funded in the future.
In the bloodstock world, I hope that the market has taken a turn for the betterin Europe and that breeders can get a fair price for a fair yearling in a fair buyers market. Overproduction worries seem to have eased but breeders still need to positively discriminate against poorer mares and not just breed for the sake of it.
Let us all hope that the Maktoum family do continue to have the ability and interest to continue their massive investments in our industry and that we can find a few other serious investors to broaden the top of the racing investment pyramid.
We will never see their like again and if they cut back we would be in major problems for a few years until the vacuum created was slowly filled.
Patrick Barbe, bloodstock agent
I'd like to see the same licensing, stewards' inquiries, quarantines and Rules of Racing in place all over the world. I know they cannot be the exactly the same but I'd like to see them close.
Patrick Barbe: bloodstock agentPICTURE: MARK CRANHAM
Breeding is now very much influenced by the new tracks, such as Tapeta, Polytrack etc and also influenced by medication. I think the same medication system should be used throughout the world.
I think that the Breeders' Cup should be run in Europe every other year. We contribute a lot to the Breeders' Cup prize fund, so I don't think it should always take place in the US.
Thisyear is going to be tough for everybody. No one wants to breed or sell mediocre horses, unfortunately only about five per cent or so will be stakes horses. Only one out of every two will be able to race at all, so we have to try to breed better horses.
Finally, safety for horse, jockey and the public needs to be increased on the racecourse. There are still too many freak accidents happening.
Cathy Grassick, bloodstock agent
Most important of all would be to see the global and domestic economies stabilise in order for us to source new owners and purchasers for the yearlings that we are producing. A lot of owners are suffering and the construction industry has sufferedespecially, so there are gaps there that need to be filled.
It would be great if another equine superstar could emerge in 2010. Sea The Stars has done a great job in promoting the industry and now that hehas retired it would be wonderful if we found another flag bearer.
I'd like to see Azamour go on to prove himself as a stallion, my late father Brian had a lot of faith in him and it would be great to see that faith repaid.
One of the biggest concerns is that the government doesn't seem to value the breeding industry, considering that we are world leaders in what we do, so I hope that people start to realise the importance of the breeding industry on the economy.
Bill Oppenheim, Journalist
Domestically, I'd like to see the British horseracing industry and the bookmakers, including exchanges, realise that we are all in this together, and come up with a proper way to fund purses and get rid of the Byzantine system that exists now.
Just for example, the Irish figured out a couple of years ago they could fund purses by taking a two percent commission on all bets struck on Irish racing, by whoever, however, and wherever.
In a European context, I hope that the British will realise that the real racing program out there is a European one, that the best horses race in Britain, Ireland, and France.
Instead of trying to create a unilateral British solution to expanding the fan base, they need to work with France and Ireland to find ways to rearrange and repackage the current program so that there is a narrative which parallels the movements of racing professionals and real racing followers.
As far as the market is concerned, I believe there was a 12-month crash in North America and Europe both between September, 2008, and September, 2009. I think the European sales hit bottom in 2008, actually, and rebounded in 2009.
Values at the top may have been cut in half, and the values at the bottom by probably two-thirds, which is good; but in between, which is the vast majority of what we call the ‘commercial' auction market, values may be off by as little as twenty percent from their record highs in 2006-2007.
I know a lot of people are concerned by Dubai's financial problems, but I think the only way that would have a big negative impact in this country would be if Sheikh Mohammed and Co. starting selling off land and laying off employees. That would be my only fear; the market will take care of itself.
There was surprisingly strong demand on both sides of the Atlantic in the last three months of 2009, but 50 per cent declines in the top one per cent can mask how strong it actually is below that level.
George Mernagh, managing director of Tattersalls Ireland
A hope would be to generate confidence in the racing and breeding industry, and to make racing more appealing to owners. We breed for owners, trainers are training for owners, so the owner's interest is crucial.
It would be nice if the government's cuts to the contribution into the prize fund could be re-jigged. What they've done to the industry in cutting the prize fund contribution and the effect that might have is a concern. Racing survives on breeders and they are funding the economy; they are paying income tax, employing staff and paying wages.
I've always thought it is a mistake to just focus on the end product, in other words the picture you see on television, and in doing so forgetting that what happens on the racecourse is only a small part of it.
David Redvers, bloodstock agent and owner of Tweenhills Stud
I hope that the international demandfor high-class British and Irish bloodstock continues to increase, and more than anything
David Redvers: bloodstock agentPICTURE: CAROLINE NORRIS
else at all I hope we can find some way to fund prize money properly, rather than self-funding it as we are doing at the moment.
Another exciting year on the racetrack would be fantastic. Last year we had the likes of Sea The Stars and Kauto Star and the general public in the wider world need to be made aware of the great characters that we have in the sport.
Julian Richmond-Watson, owner-breeder
My greatest hope is that breeders' prizes continue to be recognised; it is important that the industry remembers to support British breeders.
Let's also hope that some of the various bonuses and incentives to increase prize-money acknowledge owner-breeders, as so many seem to be framed around only a few sales races.
I also wish it would be easier to make breeders' clubs with smaller shares - like the ones managed by the National Stud - work, so thatyounger people have a cheaper entry point into breeding, which will hopefully engender a long-term interest in the industry.
I'm relatively relaxed about the health of the bloodstock market. Bloodstock will always find its own value, and the industry is amazingly resilient. It was particularly encouraging to see the high level of international involvement at the domestic sales last year.
And, naturally, I am looking forward to campaigning my horses this year. At this stage, Ceilidh House looks my best hope for big race success.