A WORD FROM AFAC - Best wishes
Having waved goodbye to 2018, we are acutely aware of the numerous uncertainties which 2019 holds in store for us. For this read the current French economic climate, the decline in Pari-Mutuel turnover which finances our prize money – allied to the inevitable restructuring of the flat and trotting sectors – for these are all elements which can give cause for concern. This is without broaching the subject of the forthcoming France Galop elections for which we will need to draw on all your support so as to be able to integrate the decision making process of France Galop more fully and making our own voice heard.
However, in the midst of these legitimate concerns for the future, one sector stands out by ploughing forward and trumpeting its dynamic nature. This sector is our one: that of the racing Purebred Arabian. Thanks to our generous sponsors which are ever more present in every country throughout the world, our sport is evolving, our breeding operations have become diversified, and the sector is increasing its visible presence on a yearly basis. It has been some journey!
It is incumbent on us as Frenchmen, so often at the forefront of the Purebred Arabian industry, to ensure that the many qualities of our breeding operations shine through so as to encourage foreign owners and breeders from throughout the world to make the long haul trips which will entail them travelling to France, and availing themselves to the required bloodline(s) on offer.
We also need to continually develop the Saint-Cloud sales which are organised in partnership with Arqana. We need to adopt an open policy regarding the rest of the world – which involves building bridges with the emerging nations of the PA sector. In order to achieve this, we need to support our breeders, who need to maintain the diversification of our bloodlines as well as transmitting their passion for the breed to the members of their entourages.
The danger of our success resides in the disappearance of the small breeders when faced by the big breeding multiples. In conjunction with AFAC, it is our intention to encourage you to live this great dream of breeding that horse capable of gracing the world stage, and who will proudly fly the flag for your breeding operation. The big sponsors are aware of this dilemma: namely that the very grass roots of the breeding industry need a helping hand if they are not to disappear.
A special mention should go to Abu Dhabi as this country will increase its levels of French sponsorship in 2019. The monies have been earmarked for a number of races at the smaller French provincial tracks. It is AFAC’s stated aim that those tracks which were subjected to the France Galop prize money cuts in 2018 should benefit from this increase; this should ensure that minimum prize levels regarding PA races are pitched at the right level in France. We are also anticipating that other new forms of sponsorship will come to fruition and I hope to be able to update you on the good news shortly.
This year, we have modified our racing programme so as to meet the requirements of the new deal that is the French Premium programme.
Our renowned Breeders’ Challenges (Gr IIs PA) races for the three-year-old division will form part of the Southwest of France’s showcase card. Consequently, these races will act as stepping stones to the Qatar Trophies at Saint-Cloud. The Breeders’ Challenge Sprint (Gr. II PA) will be brought forward so as not to clash with the Jewel Crown at Abu Dhabi (Gr. I PA). The Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Breeders’ Challenge Classic (Gr. I PA) will be moved back by a few days so as to give those horses which contested the World Cup (Gr. I PA) additional recovery time. This race will also have a new home: Bordeaux. These changes will have no bearing on the number of PA Group races run in France as it is merely a question of optimising our racing programme.
On behalf of Mélanie Vanlemberghe and myself, and all the AFAC team, we are planning on organising a number of festive surprises in the form of new and convivial events at the racetracks. We would also like to pass on our very best wishes for the New Year ahead!
Axelle Nègre de Watrigant,
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