Horse racing owners expect harder going: The 'sport of kings' is in a deeply pessimistic frame of mind. Andy Gliniecki reports

THE GOING at Newmarket yesterday was officially good, but the word in the racing fraternity was that the going was likely to become a lot harder.

The announcement that the Maktoum brothers, rulers of Dubai, are reducing their presence in British racing has created an atmosphere of deep pessimism.

Those connected with the Maktoum circle were circumspect yesterday. Luca Cumani, a leading trainer for Sheikh Mohammed, said he hoped that the brothers' decision would 'act as a catalyst which will regenerate racing over the next 10 years'. But insiders say that these are brave words coming from a trainer whose stable has been cut from 190 to 85 horses in the last three years. Of those horses remaining, 35 belong to Sheikh Mohammed.

Punters were talking of winners and losers off the course. The winners in recent years, critics say, have been the Government, which has been raking in revenue in the form of betting tax, and the off-course betting industry, which has been making fat profits.

The losers, the racing industry says, have been the stable lads, who fear for their jobs, bloodstock breeders facing plummeting prices, and owners, who are now fixing their eyes on the better prize money abroad.

Prices at the yearling sales at Tattersalls earlier this week fell dramatically. It is widely believed that the non-attendance of the Maktoums for the first time in recent years was a key factor. William Leach, who runs Meddler stud in Kentford, near Newmarket, Suffolk, received pounds 8,600 for a yearling which he expected to fetch pounds 30,000.

Mr Leach is deeply concerned about the high level of VAT. From next year, owners abroad will be expected to pay 17.5 per cent VAT on top of British stud fees. This compares with a VAT rate of 2.5 per cent in Ireland and 5.5 per cent in France. 'The Government promised us a level playing field in Europe and they haven't delivered. There is a real danger that they will destroy a lucrative industry for Britain.'

The Maktoums who have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in British racing, have studiously avoided saying exactly what are their intentions. But racing insiders believe they plan to cut the number of horses they have in training - currently 1,000 - by at least a third and possibly more if conditions do not improve. Racing and betting combined count as one of the top ten British industries. Betting alone has an annual turnover of pounds 1.4bn.

Mr Leach fears owners like the Maktoums will take their stallions abroad. 'Newmarket has been an important centre for breeding since Charles II's time. It would be catastrophic if it was put under threat.'

Derek Price, an owner and breeder, is considering moving his business to France because of the attractive prize money on offer and the cheaper property prices. Even in a relatively minor race, the prize money would be about pounds 8,000 compared with pounds 1,500 here.

Many critics lay the blame for the crisis on the off-course betting industry. In Britain off-course betting generates pounds 39m for racing. In France, where betting is controlled by the government, the figure is pounds 120m.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform