The Thoroughbred Breeders Association (TBA) is delighted to announce that it has received confirmation from the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) that the NH Mare Owners’ Prize Scheme (NH MOPS) will be introduced from January 2016. This follows prolonged discussion of the scheme during which the TBA received support from the Horsemen’s Group and the British Horseracing Authority, which was significant in helping the HBLB reach this important decision.
For several years the TBA has been seeking to raise awareness of the parlous position of British NH breeding. The Economic Impact Survey carried out by PwC demonstrated the financial difficulties facing NH breeders. Foremost amongst these is the low demand for fillies as racing prospects, which results in losses to breeders on the vast majority of fillies that are sold.
Since 2008 there has been an alarming decline in the number of NH foals produced in both Great Britain and Ireland. This poses an increasing threat to the competitiveness of NH racing. The obvious way of addressing the problem is to race more of the horses that have already been produced and at the same time encourage breeders to produce more NH horses in the future. This can best be achieved by incentivising the racing of more NH mares.
NH MOPS does this, but since it relies on public funds generated by betting on British racing it is specifically targeted to help the British NH breeding industry.
Objectives of the Scheme
- Improve demand at Sales for British-bred or sired fillies aimed at NH racing, thereby generating a greatly-improved economic climate for their breeders so as to ensure the survival of British NH breeding.
- Maintain the NH racing programme in the face of significant declines in crop sizes by encouraging much greater use of mares, which presently represent an under-used resource.
- Supplement the efforts made by the BHA to create a coherent racing programme for NH mares by awarding significantly greater prizes for successful females winning appropriate races.
- Overcome the traditional antipathy of many trainers to racing mares and encourage them to race them more often.
- Ensure that more mares are tested as NH racehorses, thus underpinning selection for breeding on the basis of racing ability.
Details of the Scheme
NH MOPS will be confined to filly foals that were either bred in Great Britain or produced by British-domiciled stallions and that have been nominated as potential NH racehorses by their breeders (or owners in the case of foals that have already been sold). The filly foals born in 2012 are the first that will be eligible for NH MOPS prizes. The requirements for nomination are detailed below. All income from nominations will be used to publicise and administer the scheme.
NH MOPS prizes are allocated with funds split between owner, trainer, jockey and stable staff. Since the majority of funding for the scheme is derived from the general prize money allocation of the HBLB, no prizes go to breeders. However, breeders are expected to benefit significantly from the higher prices realised by fillies eligible to NH MOPS and from
MOPS prizes if they race their own stock. The awards are:
– £10,000 for wins in Class 1-2 Open races, Class 1-4 Novice Chases & Hurdles (but not including Juvenile, Maiden and Beginners events), and
– £5,000 for wins in NH Flat races.
In order to support the Mares-only racing programme and to aid promotion of the scheme and monitoring of its effects on field sizes, the scheme is confined to Mares-only races.
Prizes will be reduced by 50% for fields of less than 8 runners, and for an individual horse will be confined to a maximum of £50,000 for results in Class 2-6 races plus a further £50,000 for results in Class 1 races. The scheme will begin on 1st January 2016.
The introduction of NH MOPS involves a significant commitment from the HBLB to British NH breeding. The TBA and its NH Committee have been campaigning for the initiative for several years and very much hope that British NH breeders will support the scheme and take action to nominate their fillies.
It is anticipated that providing powerful incentives for British-bred mares aimed at NH racing will have an immediate impact on both the viability of British NH breeding and the competitiveness of the NH racing programme:
- It will encourage more owners and trainers to buy and race mares, helping offset the recent declines in NH foal crops by utilising a neglected part of the thoroughbred population.
- By offering owners the prospect of quick rewards from wins in eligible races it will increase demand for British-produced mares. This will improve financial returns for British breeders of NH horses and for stallion owners, underpinning future production of foals for NH racing.
- By encouraging the racing of increased numbers of mares it will allow more to be tested as breeding prospects, thus allowing greater selection of breeding stock on the basis of racing ability and thereby improving the NH breed in the future.
- Many of the owners of successful mares are likely to retain them and become breeders themselves, thus ensuring a flow of new entrants into the industry.
The TBA believes that the introduction of NH MOPS is a major step in safeguarding the future of the British NH breeding industry and the quality and competitiveness of the NH racing programme. The Association would like to express its appreciation to the British Horseracing Authority and the Horsemen’s Group (including the Racehorse Owners Association, the National Trainers Federation, the Professional Jockeys Association and the National Association of Stable Staff) for supporting the initiative; and is particularly grateful for the decision of the HBLB to support the Scheme despite the present uncertainty in regard to the 2016/2017 Levy.
Action Required by Breeders and Owners
In normal circumstances filly foals will be nominated to NH MOPS by their breeders. However, owners or trainers can also nominate horses in their care to the scheme providing it is within the relevant registration period for that animal’s year of birth.
Late registrations are currently open for horses born in 2016 until 31st December 2017. Late registrations are only available to current TBA members and a surcharge will apply.
The registration period for horses born in 2017 has yet to be confirmed.
The TBA is currently responsible for managing the scheme. Additional nomination forms can be obtained from the TBA office at Stanstead House, 8 The Avenue, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 9AA or dowload a print friendly version at the top of this page.
Completed forms along with the appropriate payment made payable to ‘The TBA’ should be returned the above address.