Warning in British export boom to Japan

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The Independent Online
The name of the latest leading stallion to be lured to Japan says it all -Warning.

The alarm is sounding throughout the British breeding industry as the best bloodstock seeps away to the Far East, but sadly there can be no adequate response. The purchasing power of the richest racing nation on the planet is simply too strong to resist.

That it is the Saudi Arabian Khalid Abdullah - who along with the Maktoum family has dominated British racing over the last 15 years - who is doing the selling is an indication that even the wealthiest and most successful owners operating in this country cannot resist the opportunity to help make the books balance. The level of prize-money here, of course, is not much use in that respect.

It is estimated that it required $8m (pounds 5.1m) to tempt Warning away from Abdullah's Banstead Manor Stud in Newmarket, compared with the pounds 4m and $6.8m (pounds 4.3m) that the Japanese spent respectively on Warning's half-brother Commander In Chief and that horse's sire, Dancing Brave, from the same source.

In selling Warning and Commander In Chief, Abdullah has dispensed with two of the most successful sons of the remarkable broodmare Slightly Dangerous. Another half-brother, Deploy, remains in Abdullah's stallion ranks, while Dushyantor, the latest of Slightly Dangerous's sons to reach the top flight, is favourite for the St Leger tomorrow week. Punters should perhaps take Warning's sale as a sign of confidence that Dushyantor will attain Group One success at Doncaster and become a worthy replacement for Warning in Abdullah's band of stallions.

The champion miler of his generation when winning the Sussex Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes as a three-year-old in 1988, Warning was the top first-season sire of 1993. Now aged 11, his best performer this year was another miler, Charnwood Forest.

Purchased by the Japan Racing Association, Warning will be joining the last five Derby victors before this year's winner, Shaamit, -Generous, Dr Devious, Commander In Chief, Erhaab and Lammtarra - in Japan. He will swiftly be followed by this year's King George VI &Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner, Pentire.

The consequences of so many leading stallions leaving Britain within such a brief period are incalculable. A similar trend in the Sixties and Seventies when top performers were bought up by North American studs was brought to a halt when Abdullah and the Maktoums entered the scene and established their own studs in Britain. The benefit of that has been to reinforce Britain's position as the strongest racing nation in Europe by upgrading the quality of bloodstock.

Seeing that position undermined is a depressing prospect and one that is sure to be one of the main topics of conversation when the domestic yearling-sales season starts at Doncaster next week.

The United States is not immune to the power of the yen and it has been reported this week that Allen Paulson is finding it increasingly difficult to resist Japanese attempts to buy Cigar. Offered $20m (pounds 12.7m) prior to the great horse's shock defeat at Del Mar last, the bid has nevertheless been raised to $30m (pounds 19.1m), the same amount that secured Lammtarra from Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stud earlier this year.

Paulson has a powerful incentive not to part with the horse that has drawn huge crowds and helped to revitalise racing in the United States. "Cigar is an all-American hero," he said. "My popularity would go down if I sold him."