Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Sea The Stars retired

No great surprise there, but racing really needs to do something about keeping its superstars in the game for longer. One season is not enough to class him as a true champion - you have to come back and defend your crowns to earn that. As a 2yo, he showed potential, at 3 he was the best by far and at 4 and beyond he'll be shagging his life away making his shareholders very rich, and hopefully throwing some talented progeny.

So what can flat racing do to prolong the racing careers of its stars? Jumping tops the popularity stakes in Britain mostly because Kauto Star, Denman, Hardy Eustace, Istabraq and other stars come back year after year. The public feel a connection with these horses built up over more than a few months.

Here's an idea - create a jackpot pool so that any horse who wins a feature, open age Group I race two years in a row gets a bonus on top of the winner's cheques. So if Sea The Stars collected £1m for winning the Arc, next year he would be racing for an extra million or two on top. In all likelihood, it probably wouldn't have stopped Sea The Stars going to stud, but those around him who might win one or two big races might just hang around a bit longer.

European prizemoney isn't strong enough on its own to keep the great flat horses in training and it's a major shame. Australia doesn't have it quite so bad, good horses go to stud early but the Aussies do over-race as two-year-olds so you tend to have early performers at two and three, and another group maturing into top performers at three, four, five... Japan has even bigger prizemoney than Australia, what's it like there?

The Racing For Change committee is looking for ways to improve the industry, particularly flat racing. Create the incentives for the top horses to stay in training and let geldings compete in the big races. The rest of the world has no problem with it, so stop bowing to the breeders who get rich while the racing public aer only allowed brief glimpses of stardom. Racing should be about RACING and not the sales catalogues.

3 comments:

  1. Very tough nut to crack, as you fully understand the real money is in the breeding shed, there is no way prize money will ever compete with it. As such they will always be retired at the end of their 3yo year.

    What would have been nice would have been if Sheikh Mo bought him and continued to race him, there aren't many others who are not in the game for the money they can earn from the stallions. He already does so much for racing would this be one step to far?

    Also racing can't keep on relying on the Sheikh so much for trying to fix things wrong in the industry. If he were to ever leave (highly unlikely)the industry would be in a hell of a lot of trouble!

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  2. Yeah I doubt anything would have stopped Sea The Stars from going to stud this early, but there are plenty of others who have gone off at three without a patch on his record. Flat racing is heavily reliant on the Sheikhs which keeps it going but also turns others off because they see it as too much of a rich man's sport....

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  3. I personally believe that they should ban horses from breeding until they are aged 5.

    It's the only way the bloodstock agents won't bleed the industry dry. The Tsui's are loaded but they still decide to take the horse out for a potential £100m. He'll breed for another 15yrs probably and bloodstock agents and owners are paranoid of damaging their investment by him losing one race. He's a great pedigree and any future loss won't take away dramatically from what he has achieve. They just think if he ran he'd need to stay unbeaten and earn £6.6m in prize money to cover their breeding loss, probably unlikely but even if he lost he'd still be massively valuable.

    My preferred option would have been for the race horse authorities accross the world to buy the horse. Any group of banks would lend you the money. The profits they would make both in the short term and long term from increased attendances, bringing new people to the sport would offset their initial outlay. They could sell him onto Goldophin or Coolmore at say a 6-8% loss (or even just set up their own stud) but the receipts they would get from prize money 3-4 million and potential depreciation would be all offset by attendances and growth in the sport.

    Bloodstock bleeding the sport dry.

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