Britain’s first European-style sport horse breeding centre is set to open its doors in the spring after receiving a £125,000 rural enterprise grant from DEFRA.Work has already begun on the 40-acre site near Coventry, which is the brainchild of rider/farmers Pat Ruck and John Brake.

The Midlands Sports Horse Production, Sales and Marketing Centre will offer a complete on-site service, fed by a network of breeders from across the country who will send their youngsters to the centre to be sold on to buyers.

It is hoped that the centre will become a place for breeders and potential buyers to meet. It will be an independent business and, at present, has no plans to affiliate itself to any of the sport horse breeding societies or the British Equestrian Federation (BEF).

Ms Ruck told H&H that she believes Britain’s approach to sport horse breeding lags a long way behind the continent, where “all-in-one” farm-based breeding and marketing operations are the norm.

She said: “It’s maddening to think that most horses sold here are imported from abroad. We’ve done a lot of research in Holland and Germany and breeders there are shocked by the way we do things in this country.

“In Britain, we look at horses as a breed rather than a brand and are not producing the type of horse the market requires.”

Ms Ruck said that she has received more than 100 enquiries to date from individuals interested in joining the breeders’ network. Some of these are existing breeders, while others are farmers looking to diversify.

“We will support all the breeders who join our network,” she said. “The aim is to produce top-class British-bred competition horses and attract buyers from overseas.”

Head of equine development at the BEF Jan Rogers said that Ms Ruck has spotted a gap in the market.

“I’m informed by breeders in this country that there is no network for selling stock, something that makes it difficult for buyers,” she said.

  • This news reports was first published in Horse & Hound (30 November ’06)