Revealed: the full
extent of foal crop drop
FIGURES produced by Weatherbys of foal crops for the last 20 years show the "quite exceptional" decline in numbers since 2008.
Figures produced by Weatherbys show a significant declinePICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
The Irish foal crop has fallen by 39 per cent in three years, to 7,588 last year from 12,419 in 2008, while the British crop has dropped 21 per cent, to 4,665 from 5,920.
Ahead of publication of its supplement to the Return Of Mares, Weatherbys executive director Paul Greeves said: "There hasn't been a decline of this magnitude in any recession of the recent past.
"The financial recession in Britain, and more markedly so in Ireland, has had an understandable but very clear effect not just on the foal population but, lying behind that, the mare population and the number of coverings that take place in a year.
"We fully expect that we haven't actually hit the bottom yet and that the 2011 population will decline a little further."
Greeves said that it was too early to tell whether the correction in breeding numbers would lead to a "more concentrated but better quality broodmare band across Ireland and Britain."
He added: "It may be that attention has got to be turned to the question of whether the available foal population will be able to support the race programme and fixtures list in a couple of year's time. It's a complex issue because funding of the fixture list and race programmes is in a parlous state. So where it will go over the next two years is the $64,000 question."
Voluntary information from breeders when registering their foals suggest the fall in numbers has been across the board. "People have asked whether there has been a more marked decline in foals produced for jumping, especially in Ireland, but it's not the case," Greeves said.