As 2016 comes to a close,we can reflect on a decent year for the Stud at the Yearling and Foal sales,a good year racing stock in France but an indifferent year racing in the UK.

We prepared 4 yearlings (Oasis Dream,Lemon Drop Kid,Ravens Pass and Wootton Bassett) and 5 foals (Showcasing,Dawn Approach,Wootton Bassett,Kyllachy and Ravens Pass) at Laundry Cottage for onsale. While we consigned our own foals to Tattersalls,we handed or yearlings to Highclere,Jamie Railton,Greenfields and Coulonnces to sell on the day on our behalf and all did a great job.

The 2016 crop has been predominately a filly crop but there have been some nice one’s and there are still more retained to be sold as yearlings.In particular,the Wootton Bassett/Acampe foal that sold at Arqana December was as nice a foal as we saw anywhere this year. She had height,substance,presence, a walk and was a great colour. She will clean up as a yearling if-all being well-she returns to the sale. The Showcasing ex Pinch of Posh was also a bit of a queen!

We are very proud of our small contribution to the breed in the form of Wootton Bassett who has had a great year. He is a marvellous outcross and produces a high proportion of very attractive winning stock . He is expertly managed at Haras d’Etreham.

One particular disappointment at the Stud was the birth of a New Approach/Bedecked filly on 30th December 2015. We had purchased the mare at the 2015 December sale at Tattersalls from Mr Bolger’s stud carrying the New Approach to a 16/2 covering date.

She was born at least 3 weeks early but was perfectly formed and is a cracking filly. However,as a result of the ridiculous Gilbertian farce that is promulgated by racing authorities in the Northern Hemisphere, she will be almost worthless as she is already classed as a 2 year old.. Surely the authorities could adopt the Australian way and decree that all stock resulting from a cover post ,say, 15/2 will be deemed to be foals of the following year even if born pre 1/1. Incidentally,no sympathy was forthcoming on this when we told the story. The TBA-with the exception of Board member Philip Newton who tried his best to raise the issue-didn’t want to know, nor did the BHA or others. In fact most people were shocked that we didn’t squirrel away the foal until after 1/1 !!! Judging by the number of December born foals registered at Weatherby’s,one might assume that this could well be happening.

On the track in France,our two racehorses won 4 races and were placed 4 times from a total of 13 runs and this provided a tidy return. It was almost enough to make up for the losses in racing in the UK where we had a meagre 3 wins and 11 places from 46 runs.However,we have a nice Galileo filly called Apres Midi to run as ,we hope and believe ,an impoving 4 year old next year while we will look forward to a Shamardal and a Sepoy filly (both 2 year olds) for 2017.

Of the 19 horses that were bred at Laundry Cottage and ran in 2016,8 were winners which we would classify as an ok result if somewhat below the returns in recent years.

Our racing experience in recent years,serves to highlight to economical illogicality of having horses in training in the UK when across the Channel,prize money is so much better. However, introducing economics or logic into racing or breeding is a waste of time as the wealth of countries and prominent individuals undermines value (as price does not matter to that segment of the market). Also the distribution of prize mone needs urgent attention to enable the smaller owner to be rewarded for having a reasonable animal at maiden/class 3 and 4 type level (there is only so much money a Derby winner needs).And,of course,the utility value of owning a racehorse (the thrill of a winner,being part of the  racing milieu,the great “colour” that is British racing etc),is worth a lot to many people and clouds economic reaity . So horses get trained in the UK rather than France and many run stud farms breeding at a loss.

The question of breeding “commercially” versus breeding to secure the future of the breed is one that is getting a lot of airtime-and rightly so.  The market is currently skewed towards speed and precocity driven by where the prize money can be maximised and by the need for the “instant gratification” that many owners seek.One part of this debate that has not been raised is the effect of the HMRC rules on “commerciality” which requires stud farms to act in that manner if much needed tax relief during the establishnment of a business is to be received. The taxman would not,I suspect,want to allow relief on losses incurred by using a particular stallion in order to “protect the breed” while losing money relative to using a commercial cover. So many studs are further driven to the commercial “short end ” of the market. Further on this question,it would be useful if the folks who are rightly expressing concern about the negative effects of these trends were able to somehow quantify these negative effects. Quantification and measurement is,it sees to me, essential to oil the wheels of the process of change.

So on to 2017. We will have 6 yearling to sell and have covered 14 mares. In 2017 we will be using a number of stallions including Harzand,Showcasing,Iffraaj,Bobby’s Kitten,Wootton Bassett,Fastnet Rock,Acclamation,Pride of Dubai,Sepoy,Territories,Kyllachy,Outstrip. We hope to use Muhaarar and Oasis Dream also but need to await news on mare qualification!!

On the racetrack,Cap Rocat and Borderforce will again run for Francis Henri Graffard,Apres Midi for Karl Burke, Born to Boom for Karl in partnership with the Albatross Club,a Shamardal ex Tash’s Dream for Michael Bell,a Sepoy ex Dreamily for Ed Vaughan,Duchess of Fife for William Knight and Every Nice Girl for Marco Botti in partnership with Brook Stud.

We will endeavour to update more frequently in 2017!!