Pacific buyers boost British Bloodstock

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The British Bloodstock Agency has doubled its annual profits and paid its first dividend for six years on the back of booming racehorse sales to the Pacific rim.

The Newmarket-based company acts as an agent, buying and selling horses for racing and stud to clients in 38 countries. Colin Bothway, managing director, said the market had recovered from its low of five years ago and there were exciting new possibilities in Asia, especially in the previously closed market of China.

Pre-tax profits rose to pounds 153,000 from pounds 66,000 last time, and the company paid a final dividend of 1.5p per share, trading in which will start on AIM next month after 12 years on the USM.

The British Bloodstock Agency's recent deals include the sale of 1991 Derby hero Generous to a Japanese client for pounds 9m. The company is currently negotiating the sale of the three-year-old colt Lammtarra, a winner in the Derby, King George and Arc, to a client in Asia.

This is a high risk business for clients, since there is no guarantee that a champion racehorse may sire future champions when put out to stud, according to turf experts.

"The prospects for sales to the Pacific rim are glittering," Mr Bothway said. "We are increasing our sales for stallions and mares to Japan, while China is getting inquisitive. We are endeavouring to explore that market, where betting, of course, is very active."

Sales have also been strong in Brazil, while India has picked up over the last two years. The huge ownership of racehorses by Arabs, in contrast, is not a big market for the company, since the Middle Eastern owners tend to have their own experts in buying and selling.