28 Jun 2023

Industry's future discussed at sell-out TBA Bloodstock Conference

The potential challenges and opportunities for the future of the thoroughbred breeding and bloodstock industry, were explored in-depth by speakers, panellists and delegates at the first TBA Bloodstock Conference. 

Over 200 breeders, owners, enthusiasts and industry professionals convened at Tattersalls’ Park Paddocks site on Tuesday, 27 June for the full-day event hosted by journalist, broadcaster and Chair of Britain's Pattern Committee Lydia Hislop. 

The keynote speech of the event was delivered by last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winning trainer Sir Mark Prescott Bt., who shared his thoughts on training for the owner-breeder. The master of Heath House Stables enjoyed a warm reception from the audience, and shared experiences from his training career, how training processes for horses have changed and the evolving relationships of owner-breeders and trainers.

The morning session explored themes related to the horse, touching on the subjects of equine health and welfare, social licence, breed diversity and the racing product. Dr Paull Khan, Secretary-General of the European and Mediterranean Horseracing Federation (EMHF), gave a thought-provoking overview of social licence in the context of the thoroughbred breeding industry, highlighting some of the areas for future consideration with regards to global changing attitudes towards animals in sport.

The benefits of equine physiotherapy and rehabilitation techniques for transitioning or convalescing thoroughbreds were discussed by Newmarket Equine Hospital’s Jodie Daglish. In her presentation Daglish shared a number of management techniques including manual therapies and conditioning exercises that could help optimise performance and overall physical equine health.

In his talk titled ‘The myths we live by’, journalist and consultant Bill Oppenheim explored the importance of sire age and matings analysis before moving on to wider industry issues including prize money and the US context. 

Host Lydia Hislop was joined by Emma Berry (European Breeders’ Fund trustee, British Pattern Committee member, TDN Editor), and Philip Newton (TBA Deputy Chairman), for an interactive panel session on the staying horse. Race programme enhancements, incentive schemes, marketing campaigns and the demand for the middle-distance horse in global markets were identified as some of the key drivers for future growth in the production, purchase and racing of stayers.

The first session of the afternoon was focused on the industry’s people. Jane Black (Owner of Chasemore Farm), and Kate Sigsworth (TBA trustee, owner and breeder), discussed the importance of building and maintaining teams on stud farms and creating a good working environment. This was followed by Chris Gibbons, Director of Inside Inclusion, who delivered an engaging presentation on diversity and inclusion and its relevance within the racing and breeding industry. 

The final session of the day included three talks on the subject of business. Opening the session, Terry Finch of agricultural consultancy ADAS presented an overview of the latest environmental schemes available to those within the sector. 

This was followed by two panel sessions, the first deliberating how to attract the next generation of thoroughbred breeders and the latter featuring a panel of young industry professionals discussing careers, personal development and future industry challenges. 

Tom Blain (TBA trustee and Managing Director, Barton Stud), was joined by Sophie Buckley (Owner, Culworth Grounds), and Anna Kerr (Chief Executive, The National Stud), for a wide-ranging discussion on possible ways to engage new people with the industry, recruit new thoroughbred breeders and provide more ownership options. 

The final panel of the day included Alayna Cullen Birkett (Thoroughbred Daily News), Lester Futter (Yorton Stud), Max McLoughlin (Cheveley Park Stud), and Alice Thurtle (Tweenhills Farm and Stud). The panellists shared their own career journeys and what attracted them to roles in the sector, in addition to discussion on what they believe could be future challenges for the breeding and bloodstock industry.

Claire Sheppard, TBA Chief Executive said: “It was fantastic to see so many people attend today’s sell-out event. It was the first year of the Bloodstock Conference, and we were so lucky to have such a roster of speakers and panellists debating some of the key issues for the industry at this time.

“We are hugely thankful to Lydia for hosting, our excellent speakers and panellists and all of our conference partners. A special thanks must go to Tattersalls for providing the venue, allowing us to put on this event. We are already looking forward to next year’s event and will be canvassing the opinions of members and attendees for next year’s programme.”

The event also featured a marketplace, with trade stands and representatives from the day’s supporters including: Tattersalls, ADAS, Farm & Stable, George Smith Horseboxes, Newmarket Equine Hospital, Redmills, Rossdales, TB-Ed and Weatherbys.