By Jon Lees
GB: G1-winning trainer Marco Botti says low levels of prize-money in Britain are beginning to impact on his career after three more of his horses left the yard to race abroad.
The 104-rated Count Of Amazonia, winner of three out of six for the Newmarket trainer, plus 2020 Oaks D’Italia third Made In Italy and maiden Brown Delivers moved on this week, all headed to new stables in the USA.
Botti, 44, made his name with champion miler Excelebration and has won top prizes around the world, landing the Beverly D Stakes at Arlington with Euro Charline, the Canadian International with Joshua Tree and Prix Royal-Oak with Tac de Boistron. However, the Italian’s most recent Group-race winner in Britain was Dylan Mouth in 2018.
Last year Botti’s best horse Malotru was sold to Hong Kong after his owner received an offer that was too good to refuse and the increasing trend has become a serious concern for the trainer.
“Down the line it is affecting my career a little bit because when owners are looking at my stats and point out I haven’t had a Group winner last year, I say it’s because we are selling all the time,” he said.
“I have to run a business but unfortunately once the horse has gone you get the money, but you don’t get the success.”
Count Of Amazonia, Made In Italy and Brown Delivers had won just over £50,000 combined from 22 starts in Britain and Botti has other examples of horses who have had to be sold or were moved on.
“We bought Count Of Amazonia last year and were planning to campaign him a bit more abroad this year to get better prize-money,” he said.
“But an offer came in and the owner said it made no sense to run in a Listed race here for £20,000 so we were forced to accept the offer. He is going to America but Kulbir Sohi has kept a share.
“It was the same story with Made In Italy. We sold her before she ran at Kempton in a Listed race to American clients with a view to running her again before she headed to America. But because they knew the equivalent of a 20k Listed race is worth £60-70,000 over there they decided to send her there sooner rather than later.
“Brown Delivers is owned by Team Valor. He ran a couple of times this year and was unlucky at Kempton and then in a handicap. They said if he went to America he could run in a £30-40,000 maiden in America, rather than for £2,500 here.
“I had another horse Endured who won a maiden. His owner was based in Hong Kong and he said he couldn’t keep him in England because he was running for no prize-money whereas if you win a race in Hong Kong it pays for a couple of seasons.
“That’s the way it is. It’s frustrating. We are all living in hope something will change but when it’s going to happen, who knows?
“A yard like mine has no Maktoum family or Juddmonte owners so we have to rely a bit on the market as well. It happens all the time where I lose nice horses for the same reason.”
Botti backs his track record, including most recently with the Sohi-owned Felix, who was bought out of Sir Michael Stoute’s yard for 24,000gns. He is to be targeted at Royal Ascot’s Wolferton Stakes and the Arlington Million.
“Felix was second in the Winter Derby and Winter Derby Trial,” said the trainer. “In two races he won £20,000, then the same horse went to Dubai, okay it was World Cup night, and won nearly £300,000 in one race for finishing third! The gap is huge.
“We have all been complaining. I don’t know if anyone is listening to us but I personally think it makes no sense when valuable horses run for less than £3,000.
“I don’t want to criticise the BHA or whoever is in charge but there is no way we can survive with the current system. It is going to be a big struggle. I know it has been like this for a long time but something needs to be done.”
• Visit the Marco Botti Racing website