Michael Goodbody, who recently took on the role of president of the British Thoroughbred Breeders' Association after 25 years managing the late Maktoum Al Maktoum's Gainsborough breeding operation, backed calls for greater integrity in bloodstock dealings during the TBA's annual dinner Jan. 9.
Both TBA Chairman Philip Freedman and Paul Roy, who holds the same role with the British Horseracing Authority, raised the subject at the TBA annual general meeting, also Jan. 9, and Goodbody admitted he had witnessed "blatant cases and malpractice" connected to the buying of horses.
"It is imperative that new people, as well as existing people within the industry, are properly advised, looked after and financially protected. The whole system is so open to abuse that the sooner a standard code of practice is ratified internationally, the better," said Goodbody, speaking at the TBA dinner in London.
"There are at present in North America ongoing discussions relating to codes of practice for agents and sales companies. Over the years I have been involved in the buying of horses on both sides of the Atlantic I have seen blatant cases and malpractice, which can only be to the detriment of the industry. As we speak there are at present lawsuits pending in North America concerning malpractice, the outcome of which at this stage is only speculative. Importantly the allegations are enough to tarnish the integrity of the industry.
"One of the great strengths of British racing and breeding is our integrity, in spite of the ongoing investigation regarding some jockeys, I think everyone would agree we have the finest racing in the world. It is in the interest of everyone in the industry to maintain this integrity and ensure that malpractice is a thing of the past."
Goodbody also welcomed the continuation of the Breeders' Prize Scheme, which will have £1.8 million on offer this year, and called for pressure to be exerted for the prizes to increase in value.
"I know in certain quarters there is opposition to breeders' prizes and owners feel this funding should be allocated to them," said Goodbody. "However, there seems to be more horses in training than ever. Prize money is falling and training costs are rising, but this does not deter racehorse ownership. After all, nobody forces anyone to have a horse in training, it is entirely a voluntary decision, our owners must be prepared to write the expenditure off.
"Whereas breeders, with the exception of the big owner/breeder, are all in the business to make their commercial operation viable, and to this end, Breeders' Prizes are vital."
Goodbody -- like Freedman earlier --also raised the subject of foals born prematurely before Jan. 1, a date on which they technically become yearlings.
"I want to highlight the ridiculous situation where mare owners - who have legitimately had their mares bred on or after February 15 but have had the misfortune to have produced a premature foal born prior to Jan. 1 - then find themselves, technically, with progeny that are yearlings on Jan. 1," he continued.
"This ruling is outdated and must be brought to the attention of the Northern Hemisphere authorities to alter. I understand that Australia and New Zealand will recognise the date of birth for a foal born prior to the official registered date as legitimate, provided the mare has been bred on or after the official start of the breeding season."