Philip Freedman, the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association chairman, raised the issue of integrity in British bloodstock trading and called for tighter regulation of the industry at the TBA annual general meeting in London, England on Jan. 9.
Freedman expressed a desire to meet with the British Horseracing Authority in order to address the problem kick-back payments.
"However much we may do to market bloodstock to new owners, or look to expand overseas outlets for the British thoroughbred, we will only succeed if British bloodstock sales are accepted as having the highest standards of integrity," Freedman said.
He continued: "It would be as complacent for us to believe that the absence of any formal investigations under the Bloodstock Industry Code of Conduct indicated this problem had gone away, as it was for the Irish to assert that bung was an English problem caused by English vendors and English trainers’ when their Turf Club was approached about introducing a joint Code of Conduct three years ago.
"While the last thing we would wish to do is see trade move overseas and away from Newmarket or Doncaster (the two major British sales companies), we must recognize that the law of the land applies as much to our industry as any other, and to excuse an illegal act as being established industry practice would be a terrible indictment of our industry."
Freedman stressed that the successful expansion of overseas outlets for the British Thoroughbred relies on high standards of integrity, as well as intensive promotion which is currently lacking at major international events.
He announced that TBA executive director Gavin Pritchard-Gordon will take on a new role promoting British bloodstock internationally.
"For far too long owners, trainers and breeders attending the major overseas racing festivals, international sales and trade fairs such as the Asian Racing Conference have contrasted the absence of any British promotion with the constant marketing of Irish bloodstock.
"That will now end and I am delighted to be able to announce that Gavin Pritchard-Gordon has agreed to add the role of Ambassador for British Bloodstock to the many roles he already undertakes for us.
In his address, Freedman also acknowledged the problems facing British racing as a result of the decline in levy income but expressed the TBA’s gratitude to the Levy Board, which committed £1.8 million to the 2007 Breeders’ Prize Scheme.
Freedman revealed: "As a result of the extensive changes made to the scheme for 2006, accurate forecasting of how much it would cost was always going to be difficult and, erring on the side of caution, we were left with an underspend of £232,000.
"Going forward, that has enabled us not only to increase the scale of payments in some National Hunt races, but also to include class 5 novice and maiden races on the flat, races which historically had always been included when races were graded by class rather than prize money."