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Interview: British Breeders Forum Chairman Stuart Forsdike

A FULL complement of British-bred competitions in the GBGB Calendar was the target set out by Stuart Forsdike when he took over as chairman of the British Breeders Forum - and that ambition will be fulfilled in 2017.


Another British Bred Derby in December at Towcester towards the end of the year will complete the set, following on from the British Bred Oaks (September) at Doncaster, supporting that track’s Yorkshire St Leger, and the British Breeders Stakes (October) at Nottingham.


“Whatever the political situations in the game, it’s the racing which ultimately draws us all in,” said Forsdike. “Competitions drive any sport, and we are no different. The product remains a fantastic one and these events excite and inspire British breeders, owners and trainers, in equal measure.”


The most recent British-bred event saw the Liz McNair-trained, KSS Syndicate-owned and bred King Elvis strike in the 71st British Bred 2 Year Old Produce Stakes at Swindon, a success which, Forsdike said, was fully deserved by connections.


“Brendan (Keogh) and members of the syndicate are great supporters of British breeding - they backed the British Bred Derby last year - as are Rab and Liz (McNair) who are producing terrific British-bred litters year in, year out.


“King Elvis is one of our younger stars, and hopefully we’re giving him opportunities in similar events to progress, as we are for all the Swindon finalists and those who took part. It was a great competition well staged again by Swindon.”


Forsdike and his team at the British Breeders Forum, led by secretary John Marriott, have overseen, with the help of GBGB tracks and racing managers, a series of British-bred events in 2017 and the chairman has, generally, been delighted with the response.


“I wouldn’t say things have gone smoothly, it’s time-consuming and involves a lot more work than people imagine - especially when we have jobs outside the industry also to fit in! - but what the Forum has achieved racing-wise is tremendous and continues to be well received.


“Look at what we’ve had already - a British Bred Sprint at Henlow won by Philip Simmonds’ Castell Henry, a British Bred Marathon at Romford won by John Mullins’ Meadow, a British Bred Leger at Central Park won by Stuart Buckland’s Inch Forward, a British Bred Puppy Oaks at Romford won by Richard Devenish’s Tea For Tess and a British Bred Puppy Derby at Sheffield won by Carl Perry’s Geelo Monty.


“For all these events, we’re indebted to sponsors. We can fund some events ourselves but we are always looking for outside help - for instance the British Derby at Towcester needs a backer. We’re looking at £7,500 to the winner - it'd be nice to get to five figures for what promises to be another great event. Either way, it will be staged!”


Discussions over British-bred classification are at “an advanced stage” between the Breeders Forum, the GBGB and the Greyhound Stud Book, and the aim is to ensure just greyhounds bred i.e. whelped down and earmarked in the UK are eligible for such competitions. Loopholes will be removed.


“This has to be happen to give our breeders confidence, and we can then move forward to improve the various competitions we have. For instance, we’re talking with Swindon about the Produce Stakes - and how we can make things just easier for everyone. It’s an event that at the moment is two years in the making as such.


“It’s a competition we fund, and is our richest event, but for years it’s involved a rather archaic, time-consuming situation which sees lots of form filling-in for breeders, and probably means lots of talent has missed out. We could have had Salad Dodger, Eden The Kid, Do It For Twiggy and Calco Flyer all in it a few back years!”


For his own part, business commitments and his work as chairman with the Breeders Forum has meant less day-to-day involvement with his own ‘Aero’-prefixed greyhounds, but his St Leger winner Aero Majestic, now a leading sire, is back in the UK and standing at stud with Jim Hayton in Yorkshire.


“Jim and Janneke [De Baat] do a fantastic job with the pups, and their own litters continue to be successful. Majestic is standing at stud for British Breeders to use - and we’re hoping one of his first bitches could be Domino Storm. That would be something.


“Jim won the [Leamaneigh Turbo at Stud] British Bred Derby at Towcester last year with Russanda Rubin, and supports all our events. It’d be great to think a few of Majestic’s pups bred here could make the line-up in a couple of years’ time. That's the dream for me as an owner as much as anyone.”


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