The effects of the international recession on the European breeding industry is underscored by registration figures from Weatherbys showing sharp downturns in broodmare registrations and ownership changes during the first five months of 2009.
According to The Racing Post, new mare registrations with Weatherbys declined 25% in Britain and were 31% lower in Ireland, while changes of ownership of mares fell by 30% and 49% in the two countries, respectively.
The nwspaper’s web site also reported that through the end of May, exports from Britain were down by 20%, and from Ireland by 43%, while imports dropped by 16% and 57%, respectively, over the same period.
The Post reported the figures were released by Weatherbys Thoroughbred director Paul Greeves at the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association business seminar at Tattersalls in Newmarket.
He also warned that the worst was probably still to come, given that the recession had not bitten when coverings were decided last year.
Greeves, who described the decline in numbers as "the most significant in my 30 years' experience." said his projections suggested the foal crop in Britain could fall from 5,920 last year to 5,650 in 2009, and to 5,200 in 2011, while Ireland's equivalent may drop even more dramatically, from 12,419 last year to 11,200 in 2009, and to 10,300 in 2011.
"I have a feeling they could be even worse," he warned.