Sam Sheppard, chief executive of the European Breeders' Fund (EBF), will retire the end of 2012. The EBF is a major sponsor of European racing and the sport has received more than €100,000,000 ($128,130,000) in funds generated by the organization, which was founded in 1983 and made its first contributions to racing in 1984.
The money raised by the EBF comes from dues paid by European stallion owners and payments made by the owners of horses bred outside of Europe to ensure their runners become EBF eligible.
"I think the EBF model has proved to be effective as well as standing the test of time while some other schemes have been put under considerable pressure, or have foundered," said Sheppard, who has worked for the EBF since its inception. "The EBF could not have taken off in the way it did without the stallion owners, and their input is immensely appreciated. In addition, our involvement with Breeders' Cup and the owner/breeders of U.S.-sired stock has reaped dividends."
Sheppard also reflected on his years with the EBF.
"I have come across many wonderful people in my EBF role, most of whom dedicate a good part of their lives to the Thoroughbred," he said. "Inevitably, during that time the EBF and I have been through some choppy waters but we remain strong, sustainable, and looking forward to the future."
Sheppard praised the members of the staff in the EBF's office in Newmarket in England.
"It is a small team, dedicated and expert at their jobs," he said. "They exhibit great tenacity in achieving results for the EBF. It is and has been a privilege to work with them."
EBF coordinating committee member Philip Freedman paid tribute to Sheppard, saying: "Sam represents all that the EBF stands for—integrity, internationalism, and a healthy bloodstock industry. Not only does the EBF owe him a huge debt of gratitude, but so do all those who have been beneficiaries over the last 30 years—owners, trainers, jockeys, racecourses, and breeders."
D. G. Van Clief Jr., president of the Breeders' Cup from 1996 to 2006, commented on the healthy relationship between the EBF and the Breeders' Cup.
"It has been nearly three decades since I discussed with Sam and Peter Willett the emergence of the EBF concept and how it would relate to the equally new Breeders' Cup," he said. "Due in great part to Sam's perseverance and diplomacy, that evening would prove to be the beginning of a longstanding relationship between the two organizations.
"I have enjoyed working with Sam and have watched the application of his tireless work ethic, passion for the Thoroughbred, and leadership qualities that take the EBF from a mere concept to an everyday reality."