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Thoroughbred Breeding Recovering After Crisis

Thoroughbred breeding has come through turbulent development recently, at least as far as the numbers of broodmares are concerned. These were impacted mainly by the economic crisis following the fall of Lehman Brothers. But only that. It is mainly the countries where racing has tradition that face difficulties with raising money for racing which is necessarily reflected in breeding. The data published recently, however, are much more optimistic that those of preceding years.
 
In January this year we published a column on the impact of the economic crisis on thoroughbred breeding. As a measure, we chose to compare numbers of broodmares in individual countries from the pre-crisis year of 2007 with numbers in 2012 as these were published in Annual Reports, published by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. You may remember that the comparison was not exactly optimistic – the thoroughbred breeding in the world (only those countries from where data in both years were published were compared) lost during these five years 55,000 broodmares and the population thus decreased 28.1 per cent. A few days ago IFHA published a new edition of the Annual Report with 2013 data and this will allow us to find out what direction the development is taking.
Right at the beginning it needs to be said that the data are much more optimistic than those provided by the last comparison. From 2012 to 2013, too, the number of broodmares decreased but only to a minimum extent – about 1,000 mares, i.e. 0.7% of the total global population (only those countries from where data in both years were published are compared but the distortion is minimal). If we look at the development in individual countries in detail, however, we will see that there are major differences among the countries. Somewhere the numbers of broodmares increased and they are close to the pre-crisis level, elsewhere they continue to decrease and there are some countries where the crisis had had no impact on the number of broodmares at all. To make it clearer we put the data in a table, where data from years 2007 and 2012 were complemented by that of the last year.
The biggest producer of thoroughbred horses in the world, the United States, saw decrease again but a smaller one than between 2007 and 2012. Then the United States lost 36.5 per cent of broodmares, now “only” 2.1%. It has to be stressed that in this case the decrease is not related to the crisis or post-crisis condition but is a part of a long-term trend, related to the weakening of racing on the American racecourses. Although the global volume of prizes in the U.S. is still growing (albeit it decreased in 2009 to 2011) the number of races has been decreasing continually in the last twenty-five years from 74,000 races in 1989 to 43,000 last year and it is, therefore, no wonder that the number of broodmares has decreased too.
In Australia the decrease has not stopped either, just slowed down. On the contrary, the broodmare level in Argentina, where a slight decrease occurred during the crisis, seems to be stable and the number is now even higher than in 2007. Ireland was the most afflicted country where the number of broodmares in 2007 to 2012 dropped to a half but has increased one fifth since 2012 to last year. The number of broodmares still lags behind the pre-crisis years but it should be stressed that the Irish growth before the crisis was not healthy and that new balance is being negotiated now. The numbers of broodmares has increased in England, New Zealand and Turkey to name the biggest global thoroughbred producers.
In Italy, once an important producer of thoroughbred horses, the number of broodmares is still diminishing as the country is decimated by the crisis in financing of races, and another of major European players, Germany, sees continuous reduction too. Negative, but close to zero, is the percentage of development in Japan and France, two countries which, on the contrary, have little problems with the financing of racing.
Overall we can say that the situation is being stabilised and that the impact of the economic crisis fades out. It is rather the local conditions related to the strength of racing in individual countries and finances for races that has a more significant impact on the numbers of broodmares.
Numbers of broodmares in 2013 and the change against 2012
Country 2013 2012 2007 change
2012/2007
change
2013/2012
Argentina 13294 12720 13065 -2,6% 4,5%
Australia 21404 22275 29706 -25,0% -3,9%
Austria 12 16 70 -77,1% -25,0%
Azerbaijan 35 39 N/A   -10,3%
Bahrain 72 69 N/A   4,3%
Belgium 10 10 59 -83,1% 0,0%
Brazil 3324 3440 4060 -15,3% -3,4%
Bulgaria 62 66 N/A   -6,1%
Canada 1792 2284 3169 -27,9% -21,5%
Chile 2294 2261 2408 -6,1% 1,5%
China 8 5 N/A   60,0%
Columbia 65 61 N/A   6,6%
Croatia 42 114 41 178,0% -63,2%
Cyprus 258 315 824 -61,8% -18,1%
Czech
republic
306 477 630 -24,3% -35,8%
Denmark 170 185 244 -24,2% -8,1%
Dominican
Republic
98 129 N/A   -24,0%
Ecuador 245 154 N/A   59,1%
France 7242 7293 9004 -19,0% -0,7%
Germany 1486 1729 2240 -22,8% -14,1%
Great
Britain
6802 6667 11091 -39,9% 2,0%
Greece 105 126 430 -70,7% -16,7%
Hungary 185 220 N/A   -15,9%
India 2420 2993 2743 9,1% -19,1%
Ireland 12643 10488 20700 -49,3% 20,5%
Italy 840 1100 3205 -65,7% -23,6%
Japan 9297 9333 10219 -8,7% -0,4%
Kenya 86 85 N/A   1,2%
Korea 1931 1891 2040 -7,3% 2,1%
Lebanon 0 13 N/A   -100,0%
Malaysia 9 65 79 -17,7% -86,2%
Mexico 312 416 590 -29,5% -25,0%
Morocco 653 328 353 -7,1% 99,1%
Netherlands 0 3 25 -88,0% -100,0%
New
Zealand
5408 5325 8286 -35,7% 1,6%
Norway 65 61 56 8,9% 6,6%
Oman 3 1 N/A   200,0%
Panama 342 312 N/A   9,6%
Peru 974 922 520 77,3% 5,6%
Philippines 1275 1435 N/A   -11,1%
Poland 490 492 N/A   -0,4%
Puerto
Rico
430 448 N/A   -4,0%
Qatar 165 120 N/A   37,5%
Romania 40 47 N/A   -14,9%
Russia 965 780 N/A   23,7%
Serbia 38 97 N/A   -60,8%
Slovakia 46 78 211 -63,0% -41,0%
Slovenia 17 28 55 -49,1% -39,3%
South
Africa
3950 4221 3654 15,5% -6,4%
Spain 284 332 360 -7,8% -14,5%
Sweden 279 258 383 -32,6% 8,1%
Switzerland 41 40 83 -51,8% 2,5%
Tunisia 115 133 67 98,5% -13,5%
Turkey 2200 1950 3359 -41,9% 12,8%
USA 34389 35109 55271 -36,5% -2,1%
Uruguay 2925 3218 2925 10,0% -9,1%
Venezuela 1897 2089 N/A   -9,2%
Zimbabwe 63 125 N/A   -49,6%
Total 145916 147003     -0,7%

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