Well of course, I’m not specifically talking about the loss of creatures of high intelligence out of the Country when discussing the exodus of higher grade horses, more like physical ability. But hey, it’s a catchy phrase.
Yes, it’s disappointing, but is it anything new? I can recall the same concerns being raised twenty, thirty years ago, and the Industry survives. People who race horses do it for enjoyment and, hopefully, to get some of their expenses back. If someone with big pockets waves a figure for your horse which includes a lot of noughts in front of your face, it is going to be a big temptation, always has been and always will be. And, as is common knowledge, trainers try to keep their fees down to a manageable level by collecting commission on sales.
What can be done about it, I would suggest very little, as long as racing opportunities exist in other Countries with much larger populations, and therefore more racing than ours. Let’s be honest, how would our industry be going if we didn’t have rich overseas markets to sell to? If we had a surplus of top grade horses racing here, would our turnovers increase enough to boost stakes to much higher levels, and have the top ones earning more? Debateable, but I doubt it. Would our breeders be breeding more horses? Once again, debateable, but once again, I doubt it.
To me the main concern is the loss of broodmares. Without them, our breed fades away, and so does our racing. Perhaps it might be time to bring in some way of preventing, or at least, limiting the ‘mare drain,’ though what that would be without getting involved in restriction of trade etc., I’m not clever enough to work out.