The Numbers of Broodmares Get Stabilised

The economic crisis, caused by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, had a profound impact on thoroughbreds. Due to the crisis, the numbers of broodmares decreased almost all over the world and, as we said three years ago quoting the IFHA data, the decrease amounted to about 30 per cent. What are the numbers like now?

To answer this question we approached, once again, the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) and its Annual Report. It is published on the regular basis with data for the previous year at the occasion of annual meeting in Paris in early October. The last one was published at the end of 2016 and captures 2015 data as these were provided by its members.

In the following table you will find up-to-date Annual Report data from 2015 and 2014, to which we added results from 2007, as these were published by the 2007 Annual Report, thus making it possible to compare the current condition with levels before the crisis. It is evident at first sight that the 2007 numbers have not been attained and the history of the global breeding trends in the past three years does not give much ground for thinking that the development heads back towards these numbers. The results of biggest thoroughbred producers, however, offer a different picture. In the United States, the number of broodmares in 2015 was 35% lower than in 2007, but annually their number grew, albeit by just 0.6% against 2014. A similar development can be observed among most largest producers with the exception of Australia, where the numbers of broodmares in 2015 were lower than in 2014. In Ireland, hit most severely by the crisis, the number of broodmares between 2014 and 2015 grew 7.6%, in the UK 6.1%. The number of broodmares grew also in Argentina, the only country which had more broodmares in 2015 than in the pre-crisis year of 2007. The breeding in South Africa recovers quickly too as the number of broodmares increased between 2014 and 2015 by nearly 25%.

The development of broodmare numbers in biggest thoroughbred producers is, with some exceptions, similar. It is characterised by a steep drop due to the economic crisis and gradual recovery, albeit still quite distant from the pre-crisis values. The countries with a strong background of betting industry based on the Pari-mutuel (Totalizator), such as France and Japan, were impacted less severely than countries such as the UK and Ireland, where there were signs of overproduction even before the crisis and where the way of financing races is not as healthy as in France.

Year-on-year the number of broodmares on the planet decreased, but just marginally. If we compare data from all countries of which the Annual Report published them, we will get to the decrease from 142,737 broodmares in 2014 to 142,534 in 2015, i.e. by mere 203 mares. Besides Australia, which was already mentioned, there was a major decrease in Brazil, where the number dropped annually nearly by 20%, same as in Saudi Arabia.

The breeding in smaller countries, which in general do not produce thoroughbreds for other countries and where the horses bred race almost exclusively in the racing silks of local owners, there are often other factors at play than the global economic condition – namely the local economy and the strength and financing of the local racing. It will come as no surprise that the breeding was totally devastated in Greece, where the number of mares dropped annually by 20%, but compared to 2007 by over 90%. Breeding in Spain decreased significantly too. The CEE countries struggle with increasing difficulties against the inflow of imported horses, but the countries such as Ukraine or Russia saw the numbers of broodmares rise in 2015 against 2014. Nevertheless, it is the countries with local breeding that decrease most now.

An exact comparison with the pre-crisis period is more difficult, as the 2007 Annual Report does not include data from all countries that we now have. The data from 37 countries, which we have, will show us that in these countries the number of mares decreased from 192,225 to 132,594, i.e. 31%. This is the decrease caused primarily by the economic crisis and the recovery is very slow. Although in some countries the numbers of broodmares grow significantly, the global numbers show that the current condition is being stabilised rather than returned to pre-crisis values.

The Numbers of Broodmares (by IFHA)

country 2015 2014 2007 % change 2015/2007 % change 2015/2014
USA 35801 35577 55271 -35,2% 0,6%
Australia 19282 20353 29706 -35,1% -5,3%
Argentina 13156 12526 13065 0,7% 5,0%
Ireland 11720 10892 20700 -43,4% 7,6%
Japan 9371 9251 10219 -8,3% 1,3%
France 7698 7441 9004 -14,5% 3,5%
Great Britain 7050 6643 11091 -36,4% 6,1%
New Zealand 4944 5373 8286 -40,3% -8,0%
Uruguay 2820 2924 2925 -3,6% -3,6%
South Africa 2811 2258 3654 -23,1% 24,5%
Brazil 2488 3089 4060 -38,7% -19,5%
Turkey 2350 2250 3359 -30,0% 4,4%
Chile 2209 2169 2408 -8,3% 1,8%
Saudi Arabia 2177 2743 N/A - -20,6%
India 2109 2181 2743 -23,1% -3,3%
Korea 1916 1952 2040 -6,1% -1,8%
Venezuela 1896 1902 N/A - -0,3%
Canada 1733 1873 3169 -45,3% -7,5%
Germany 1450 1425 2240 -35,3% 1,8%
Russia 1221 1214 N/A - 0,6%
Philippines 1116 1224 N/A - -8,8%
Peru 830 895 520 59,6% -7,3%
Italy 780 782 3205 -75,7% -0,3%
Jamaica 689 N/A N/A - -
Morocco 377 381 353 6,8% -1,0%
Poland 373 403 N/A - -7,4%
Czech republic 359 347 630 -43,0% 3,5%
Puerto Rico 354 359 N/A - -1,4%
Mexico 334 377 590 -43,4% -11,4%
Panama 294 251 N/A - 17,1%
Sweden 244 221 383 -36,3% 10,4%
Ukraine 243 175 N/A - 38,9%
Cyprus 202 199 824 -75,5% 1,5%
Qatar 194 190 N/A - 2,1%
Dominican Republic 187 72 N/A - 159,7%
Trinidad & Tobago 184 200 N/A - -8,0%
Hungary 167 209 N/A - -20,1%
China 165 205 N/A - -19,5%
Denmark 160 180 244 -34,4% -11,1%
Tunisia 120 128 67 79,1% -6,3%
Ecuador 100 95 N/A - 5,3%
Paraguay 93 104 N/A - -10,6%
Kenya 74 73 N/A - 1,4%
Spain 74 144 360 -79,4% -48,6%
Bahrain 72 68 N/A - 5,9%
Barbados 72 87 N/A - -17,2%
Bulgaria 67 78 N/A - -14,1%
Slovakia 51 46 211 -75,8% 10,9%
Romania 47 52 N/A - -9,6%
Serbia 40 41 N/A - -2,4%
Columbia 39 35 N/A - 11,4%
Greece 39 49 430 -90,9% -20,4%
Kazakhstan 35 24 N/A - 45,8%
Azerbaijan 28 26 N/A - 7,7%
Norway 23 35 56 -58,9% -34,3%
Switzerland 21 29 83 -74,7% -27,6%
Austria 18 12 70 -74,3% 50,0%
Croatia 18 26 41 -56,1% -30,8%
Slovenia 14 17 55 -74,5% -17,6%
Netherlands 13 4 25 -48,0% 225,0%
Lithuania 11 5 N/A - 120,0%
Belgium 9 21 59 -84,7% -57,1%
Oman 1 2 N/A - -50,0%
UAE 1 4 N/A - -75,0%
Malaysia 0 2 79 -100,0%
Portugal 0 4 N/A -
Syria 0 4 N/A -
Lebanon N/A 4 N/A - -
Thailand N/A 742 N/A - -
Uzbekistan N/A 15 N/A - -
Zimbabwe N/A 55 N/A - -
total 142534 142737 192225

Miloslav Vlček

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