The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA), along with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), has launched the #thisfillycan campaign to promote the benefits of buying, owning and training fillies and mares on the Flat.
The launch of the campaign follows an extensive review undertaken by the BHA to better understand the profile of fillies in training, the race opportunities available to them and their ability to compete with colts over the last decade.
Highlights of the review included:
- About 700 Flat races are now programmed exclusively for fillies, 40% more than 10 years ago.
- The median prize fund available in fillies’ races was above that of open races in each of the last 10 years.
- Once rated 75, the average filly earns more prize money each season than the average colt. Below 75, both sexes earn a similar amount.
- More fillies are winning black type and yet their median handicap rating remains constant at about 98.
- The quality of fillies in training has improved, with 650 more fillies rated 85 and above than 10 years ago, an increase of 58% (versus 39% for colts).
The BHA’s Director of International Racing and Racing Development, Ruth Quinn, said it was important the findings of the BHA review positively influenced people’s perception of the value of fillies:
“Despite equal numbers of fillies and colts being born each year, by the time horses are registered in training, the split between fillies and colts is more commonly 40/60.
“Further, we have 1,296 more colts in training today than 10 years ago, but only 227 more fillies, albeit we are seeing a significant uplift in the quality of fillies, particularly those rated 85 and above.
“By highlighting the significant opportunities available to fillies, and their overall earning potential, we hope to close the gap by positively changing the perceptions of breeders, owners and trainers to realise that fillies can be an excellent prospect on the racetrack, which can only benefit all corners of the industry.”
The industry campaign, #thisfillycan, which pays homage to the popular This Girl Can campaign, which celebrates and encourages active women, is designed to shed light on the opportunities available to fillies and to encourage owners and trainers to try them on the track. Elements of the campaign will include social media, advertising and editorial.
TBA Chairman, Julian Richmond-Watson, said: “The TBA is delighted the BHA undertook a thorough situation analysis of the landscape for fillies and mares, which is so important to us breeders, and I am sure you will find some of the findings fascinating and in some cases surprising.
“As custodian of the thoroughbred, the TBA has a duty to ensure that the fillies’ and mares’ programme is as robust and testing as possible, while ensuring that as many as possible of the better quality females have opportunities to race and compete in this country where hopefully, when they retire, they will reside at stud.
“The review proves the opportunities are there and that the quality of fillies is improving, so it is now up to us to change perceptions about fillies and mares; their racing suitability, their residual value and the opportunities that exist for them.
“We therefore launch the exciting, new campaign #thisfillycan and encourage all to spread the word about what can be achieved when racing a filly.”
Further to the campaign, the BHA and TBA are involved in a number of initiatives designed to boost opportunities for fillies at all stages of their career, and for fillies of varying quality, including:
- The Plus 10 bonus scheme which boosts prize money significantly through the application of £10,000 bonuses on top of prize money to more than 230 two and three-year-old fillies’ races each year;
- The £650,000 European Breeders’ Fund Fillies’ Series for 2016, which encompasses 20 handicap races for fillies aged three-years-old and above, all worth a minimum of £20,000. This race series is designed to provide opportunities to fillies that generally fall just below black type level, and culminates in a Finals Day at Newmarket on 1 October;
- Two new fillies’ Listed races programmed by the BHA in 2016, with the first being held at Ayr, and the second to be staged at Bath in October; the BHA has ambition to enhance and improve opportunities for fillies within the black type programme at a variety of distances, over the next few years.