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Sharp fall in thoroughbred numbers

The number of thoroughbreds being bred in Britain is in sharp decline, which is welcome news to racing and welfare bodies.

Recent figures from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) show roughly two-thirds as many horses being registered for racing as there were five years ago, as breeders respond to the recession and overproduction.

A spokesman for the BHA said: “Overproduction of foals is an issue affecting the entire equine sector in Britain.

“Starting in 2008 there was a conscious effort in British racing to address the issue and to raise awareness of the problem.”

In the past five years the number of thoroughbred foals registered annually has decreased by 28.6% — from 5,920 in 2008 to 4,366 in 2012.

“There has been an impact from the recession and market forces have played their part,” added the spokesman.

“But communicating with owners and breeders about the issue was much easier than in other disciplines.”

World Horse Welfare says it is “encouraged” by this news.

“Overbreeding is probably the largest welfare problem in Britain right now, and it’s good to see that racing is acting responsibly,” said the charity’s chief executive Roly Owers.

“We wish we could say the same for all horse breeders.”

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (7 February 2013)

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