Leigh Threatens to Move Horses

Leading British owner-breeder Gerald Leigh warned that his eight horses in training in Britain will move to America or France if Thoroughbred breeders lose their seat on the British Horseracing Board.

Leigh was speaking at the annual general meeting of the British Thoroughbred Breeders' Association in London on Jan. 8, adding his voice to that of Nigel Elwes, the BTBA chairman, who had earlier hit out strongly on the same issue in his speech to the AGM.

Leigh, who was most successful owner-breeder resident in Britain in 2001thanks to Gossamer and was named breeder of the year in the recent TBA awards, said: "The disenfranchisement of breeders from racing's governing body would be totally unacceptable. Breeders should be part of the organisation because of their huge investment in the racing industry. If it does come about, I would withdraw all my horses in training in Britain."

The BHB's board structure is currently being reviewed and there have been strong rumours that the TBA's seat is under threat.

Elwes, who represents breeders on the BHB, threatened to resign as the TBA chairman in his speech if breeders lose out on direct representation. He related that breeders employ 12,000 people and house some 9,000 mares and 200 EBF registered stallion on around 160,000 acres in Britain.

He commented: "The only organisation to get near us in terms of investment in the industry is the Racecourse Association but I doubt they could match our investment of some £2 to £3 billion.

"A businessman in the commercial world would not make a substantial investment in a company without requiring a seat on the board. So why should we be any different? Unlike racehorse owners, we cannot easily sell-up when times get tough.

"It would clearly be a grave mistake if we were to lose our seat on the BHB. The BTBA has made a major contribution to the racing and breeding Industry in recent years and must be allowed to continue to do so, especially because as breeders, we are able to look at the big picture, without any particular sectional interest."