A sharp decline in thoroughbred foals in Britain and Ireland has been welcomed.

According to figures released at the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA) AGM last month (28 June), the crop has dropped by 40% during the past four years, from 18,472 registered foals in 2007 to 12,253 in 2010.

The biggest fall was in Ireland.

The TBA anticipates a further decrease in 2011.

Weatherbys’ Paul Greeves said: “The number of two-year-olds going into training in 2012 might drop by more than 20 per cent, but the mare population has only declined by 21 per cent and within that quality has increased. The reduced foal population may be of a greater quality and more robust.”

Trainer and vet Mark Johnston agreed: “As long as the drop has come off the bottom of the market, this can only be good news. The fixtures list is too big and there isn’t enough funding available to sustain the sport as things are.”

With the Horserace Betting Levy Board — racing’s main bankroller — expected to contribute less than anticipated to the sport in 2012, there is a strong chance that there will be fewer fixtures next season, meaning there will be less need for lower-quality foals to fill them.

For more on this news story, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (7 July, 2011)