24th Jan 2012
The small number of new stallions in 2012 – we have none – is a matter of some debate. Coolmore created two prospects and bought another, while the Maktoum family created one. The rest of us ought to have had opportunities, but there were few candidates, certainly on our tracking list. We need to find a horse which will be acceptable to our clients at a price we can justify. Just like all the other stallion farms.
The criteria of “acceptability” are similar for everybody. I believe that the criteria in Europe are narrower than in North America, Australia or Japan. Would Tapit, Tiznow or Candy Ride have attracted sufficient support in Europe to prosper? Maybe not, but in North America they are currently among the best. Even Street Cry may have had to overcome some prejudice in Europe. Good luck to Cape Blanco in the land where El Prado rose to be Champion and Kitten’s Joy continues his ascent. The Irish Derby winner can follow on.
The other side of the equation on stallion prospects is price. The relative fall in stud earnings compared to the potential earnings of a globetrotting elite runner means that more marginal horses can justify staying in training. The superstars can race another season with no sense of loss. That’s great for racing and may allow for a rethink of the criteria of acceptability too. Canford Cliffs and Dick Turpin are judged on excellent race records not on any prejudice of provenance.
The request by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for submissions on the structure and administration of the Irish racing world is an encouraging sign of positive engagement by the Government. It is also an opportunity for us all to think about how we might improve decisions that are made. The remit of the investigation, though couched in careful phraseology, would seem to be partly targeted at the “twin peaks” of Turf Club and HRI. I am a member of the Turf Club since last October, so in some people’s eyes I am half the man I used to be! I do see a parallel with the professional era in Irish rugby.
A local rugby club embraced the professional age with gusto, importing players and coaches and rising high up the All-Ireland League. They then discovered the flip side. Where once the rugby club members took ownership of the club and both promoted and supported it, a new era of entitlement and claim reduced the level of volunteerism. Where once people gladly served behind the bar, in the kitchen or on the grounds for the love of it, it became the hallmark of the fool to work for nothing where others were being paid. While the club found it hard to financially sustain the increase in outgoing cash, it absolutely could not support the loss of the voluntary efforts of the countless members, and the goodwill that followed. Thankfully, normal voluntary service has been resumed!