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|
|Trinidad & Tobago||184||200||N/A||-||-8,0%|