More signs that GBB is making a difference

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Article published by the Racing Post on Saturday 24th October.

With little to be encouraged about in terms of racing's finances at present, there are at least signs that one of bloodstock's initiatives is making a difference in the ring.

The Great British Bonus, launched in late May to replace the Plus 10 and MOPS schemes, offers prizes of up to £20,000 for registered British-bred fillies who win races.
There are reports that buyers have already begun to specifically target them at the yearling sales, offering a much-needed boost to those at the middle and lower end.

"For me its the most exciting incentive that's happened in British racing this year," said Niall O'Brien, founder of the Ontoawinner syndicate behind success stories such as Commonwealth Cup star Quiet Reflection.

"It should bring syndicate members into looking at a filly, whereas traditionally everyone wants to buy a colt. I think it will alter peoples buying habits; there's a generous amount of two- and three-year-old fillies races in the calendar anyway, that knocks out half the opposition and now there's the bonus.

"We bought significantly more fillies than colts and as long as the scheme continues to go on, it will continue to affect the way we look. You'd give more for one now if they have the bonus, because its significant."

Conor Norris, who assists father Liam in leading consignors Norris Bloodstock, has noticed the difference.

"We've sold loads of them," he said. "At Tattersalls Ascot you'd be buying fillies last year for maybe 10 or 15,000gns and you weren't getting them for 20, 25,000gns this year I don't think, there were lots of trainers out there looking to buy horses just for the bonus."

Robin Sharp of Houghton Bloodstock is in agreement.

"For the first time ever people have asked if they were qualified, more so than any other year, so it obviously helps," he said.

"Its made a difference in not selling them, for sure. We had a couple that weren't qualified for one reason or another and the people that were very interested walked away when they knew they weren't qualified, as obviously its a big selling point.

"We do all ours and we should follow Australia's lead and everything should have to be qualified. To register a horse in this country costs us about £126, in Ireland I think its £350 upwards.

"If we made ours £300 and everything is qualified, whether they want to to it with colts or just fillies, then the moneys in the pot and we know exactly where were going."

The incentive has encouraged Norris, a graduate of last years BHA development programme, to launch his own syndicate Keep Kicking Racing, with a qualified Ardad filly one of two he is offering shares in.

"I've sold a few shares on the hopes we can run in a few GBB races and the sales races," he said. "I thought we would give it a go, hopefully well get there and I can sell them all before Christmas.

"With prize-money how it is, you can win a race and get £20,000 straight away. It goes a long way to paying the fees, and that's quite a good way to get people involved."

Future vendors can jump on the bandwagon until October 31, the extended registration deadline for 2020 foals. The £20,000 bonus is currently for British-bred foals by stallions standing in Britain, while there are £10,000 bonuses for those by stallions based abroad.