Saturday, June 15, 2024

Racing and breeding in Turkey | Trainer Magazine | European Trainer Article Index

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There are 795  trainers in the country whose licences allow them to train thoroughbreds or purebred Arabians. There are almost as many Arab races as thoroughbred races, and the prize money is similar. Between the codes, there are over 8,000 horses in training.There is no jump racing nor trotting. A quarter of the race programme is on turf: the majority of races are run on sand with around 10% on a synthetic surface.

To retain their licences, trainers must attend compulsory training sessions, which have heretofore been annual, but are about to be moved onto an ‘as required’ basis. The great majority of trainers train US-style on the racetracks, and each track has plentiful boxes for the local horses-in-training. 

But here’s the thing: for the most part, trainers do not charge a fee to their owners, in the manner of those in Western Europe. Their sole remuneration is, rather, a percentage of their horses’ earnings – 5% or 10%. (Some do strike separate agreements with their owners for a fixed salary, but this is not the norm).

The owner, for his or her part, is then responsible for all their horses’ expenses. However, what one might imagine would be a hefty part of those costs –  that of the horse’s stable at the racetrack – is again heavily subsidised by the TJC, who charge just €15 to €20 (depending on the racecourse) per annum per box. The owner’s total expenses – including the salary and insurance of the stable staff, feed, bedding, veterinary expenses, etc. – are not far in excess of €1,000 per month. But, lest this information should start a goldrush amongst European owners, salivating at the potential returns on investment, it should be explained that not everyone can become an owner in Turkey. One must have a Turkish residence permit and be able to demonstrate financial sufficiency. This explains why there are only 10 foreign-national owners on the TJC’s books.

Turkey is one of a select few European countries with internationally recognised Group races (the others being France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, the three Scandinavian countries and Italy). The Gp2 Bosphorus Cup (3yo+, 2,400m/12f) and Gp3 Topkapi Trophy (3yo+, 1,600m/8f) are the richest, worth north of €150,000. The Istanbul Trophy (Gr3), for fillies and mares, makes up its Group-race trio. All are run over the turf course at Istanbul’s impressive Veliefendi racetrack –  the main centre and flagship of Turkish racing. They are joined by the International Thrace Trophy (turf) and International France Galop FRBC Anatolia Trophy (dirt), both of which are international Listed Races. The only other open race takes place at the nation’s capital, Ankara, being the Queen Elizabeth II Cup for two-year-old thoroughbreds; but this has never attracted any European runners.

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