Countries whose thoroughbred breeding industries fail to meet the highest standards of integrity face being exiled for racing and breeding purposes under an initiative agreed by the International Stud Book Committee.
All 69 approved stud books will be required to sign up to a new declaration of compliance, and failure to comply will lead to serious sanctions being applied.
The initiative was agreed at the 40th ISBC annual meeting in Newmarket last week and it coincided with the ISBC ejecting a country from its membership for the first time, with Thailand being dropped.
Chairman Johnny Weatherby admitted it did demonstrate how the new declaration would work. The timing of Thailand’s exit had been three years in the making and involved considerable efforts by the Asia Stud Book Committee and the ISBC Secretariat to resolve the issues of non-compliance.
Weatherby said the ISBC must continue to work tirelessly to ensure whatever country suffix a thoroughbred racehorse carries, the racing authorities know its identity is guaranteed.
“The future will undoubtedly see more international trading and racing of bloodstock and more nations involved in breeding, and the ISBC will support, nurture and regulate to the highest standards.”
To that end, he said, the new declaration of compliance would ensure absolute clarity on what was expected of approved stud books and establish certainty on sanctions for non-compliance.
Weatherby, who took pride in reminding the international audience that his ancestor James Weatherby produced the first thoroughbred stud book more than 200 years ago, with the primary objective to “rid the turf of the evil of false and inaccurate pedigrees,” added: “It is crucial we possess authority to enforce.
“Any stud book that fails to comply with the internationally agreed standards and procedures will have its status revoked. This means that in such an event no horses from the stud book region in question can be exported and/or race overseas until such time as the ISBC deems that full compliance has been achieved.
“The foundations for the international thoroughbred breeding and racing industries must without exception remain strong and of the highest integrity.”
Weatherby went on: “We will be rigorous in our inspection and enforcement, using the best of new technology. That too will be a challenge, but one which we will meet.”
Addressing other issues, Weatherby said one of the principal challenges the breeding industry faced could be the very essence of the thoroughbred itself, but he stressed the ISBC would not countenance artificiality in the process.
“No artificial insemination, no cloning, no embryo transfer,” he added. “In addition, following discussion with the IFHA and the industry, we have given the unequivocal message that any manipulation of the heritable genome would result in the removal of thoroughbred status. Thoroughbred production beats to nature’s drum.”
Turning to new scientific developments, Weatherby said: “Recent scientific advances in animal breeding have delivered new technologies which provide a deeper genetic understanding of many species and which could provide opportunity to further improve the thoroughbred breed – eradicating weaknesses; amplifying strengths.
“But the science, particularly for equines, is new, and it is of note that the industry is adopting a cautious approach in this area to ensure it is applied in the positive interest of the breed.
“The ISBC and the breeding industry are demonstrably alert to developments and it was very encouraging to see the subject under scrutiny at the recent international breeders’ congress in Ireland, where the participants voted overwhelmingly to take a responsible and objective approach, to gather more information and to evaluate those technologies that can offer potential to enhance the well-being of the breed.”