A British Breeding scheme designed to improve the quality of British-bred horses is gaining momentum after receiving sponsorship from specialist feed company, Baileys Horse Feeds.
The Baileys Horse Feeds/British Breeding Futurity Scheme was originally launched in 2004, but was forced onto the back burner last year due to the pressures of equine passports and the development of the National Equine Database (NED), which will ultimately play a central role in the scheme.
Futurity co-ordinator, Celia Clarke explains: “We were originally planning for the futurity scheme to begin last year, but passports and the NED got in the way. Now that we have received support from Baileys, we are delighted to push ahead and get the scheme up and running for foals to four-year-olds.”
The futurity is based on a similar successful scheme run on the continent. It will encourage owners, breeders and trainers of eligible young horses, initially from foals to four-year-olds although five- and six-year-olds will be included from next year, to register their horses and raise their profile, while competing for a significant prize fund.
The Baileys Horse Feeds/British Breeding Futurity Scheme targets horses bred for a career in show jumping, dressage or eventing and will give producers the chance to have their youngsters evaluated by experts in an attempt to identify the most talented young horses as early as possible.
Graham Suggett, who has been instrumental in the scheme’s development, says: “Participants will be helping provide data about the progeny of stallions and mares, exposing prepotent bloodlines and enabling the development of breeding performance indicators. All this will provide British breeders with valuable information to support future, potentially medal-winning, breeding programmes.”
The scheme is designed to be self-funding with all enrolment fees contributing to the annual total prize fund. Enrolment costs £50 per horse per year and the greater the number of horses that enrol each year, the more money there is to be won.
Owners of horses not enrolled as foals may “buy back” in to the scheme by paying the fees that would have been due had the horse been enrolled each year since a foal. Foals and youngstock will be judged on conformation, paces and suitability of type for their intended discipline at the championships at Keysoe, Buckinghamshire in September. Assessments of four year olds will form part of the already established SEIB/British Breeding Young Horse Evaluations.
To ensure the scheme is available to the widest possible range of breeders, British Breeding is considering holding a pre-championship qualifier in Scotland if a suitable venue and date can be arranged. Clarke says: “We realise that Buckinghamshire is a long way for Scottish breeders to travel and so we are looking into holding a qualifier in Scotland, from which the top horses in each age group will be invited to attend the championships.”
From 2006, five- and six-year-old horses will be assessed based on competition results in the appropriate young horse age classes for each discipline, including where relevant, results data lodged with the National Equine Database and the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH) Young Horse Championships in each of the disciplines.
With prizes also on offer for sires of participating horses in all age groups, and special premiums for the highest scoring horses in each of the three disciplines, the scheme provides real cash incentives for all connected with the best potential performers.
“We’re very excited about this new initiative,” said Jane Buchan of Baileys Horse Feeds. “Baileys has always had strong links with breeders and we see our involvement as a chance to give something back as well as helping invest in the sport horses of the future.”