Cameron Larkin .com

Bruce aims to bring down thoroughbred breeding industry

One man has threatened to bring the thoroughbred breeding industry to its knees with an axe above set to slice.

That man is Bruce McHugh.

The former prominent Sydney bookmaker and Chair of the Sydney Turf Club has instigated legal action in the Federal Court asserting that Artificial Insemination is a restraint of trade under the Trade Practices Act.

The case initially went before the court in November of 2009 and after a lengthy period of reviewing documents, it has once again risen to the surface, or should I say, the turf.

A man who made his money from the track is now causing the racing industry severe angst.

As could’ve been expected, there has been strong denigration from those within the racing and breeding industry.

If McHugh’s claim is successful, according to the Thoroughbred Breeders Australia CEO, Peter McGauran, “every other major breeding country and racing, for that matter, around the world, to which Australia exports more than 2500 horses for in excess of $100 million, will exclude from those markets any horse that is conceived by way of artificial insemination and possibly even those conceived by way of natural serve.”

The former Federal agriculture minister further stated that McHugh is “setting a time bomb” for the breeding industry.

This is a massive issue and anger is at all time high levels from those involved including close to 10,000 breeders.

Only horses conceived naturally are acknowledged in the Australian Stud Book; they do not accept those conceived by AI into the thoroughbred register.

Here is the chief aspect.

All major international thoroughbred stud books refuses to let in horses conceived by AI – this includes North America, France, and England and much of Asia. Such horses served by AI way and their progeny would not be considered as thoroughbreds in other countries and so could not race or be used for breeding internationally.

The International Stud Book Committee has foreseen that this matter may arise, however, they have been quoted as saying, “that it would not be in the interest of the industry to change.”

Supporters of and including McHugh believe stud fees would drop and allow greater access to the top stallions. There is however no evidence to support this, only that instead of seeing one or two Fastnet Rock’s in a race at Sandown on a Saturday, we may see a race full of the stallions offspring. It would cause a flood and potentially raise a stallion’s fee, not reduce.

Point two – AI isn’t new to Australia and racing.

Harness racing in Australia has been commonly used and an interesting element to note is that fertility in standardbreds is less than their thoroughbred counterparts.

Here is another key element.

Stallion numbers have diminished by 50 per cent since the introduction of AI into the standardbred industry in Australasia and according to a professor who conducted a study for the renowned Arrowfield Stud. The top 20 sires now cover 42 per cent of the total broodmares bred. That figure was 16 per cent in the pre-AI era.

If McHugh is successful then he may well be solely responsible for the demise of a $200 million crash and the heartbreak of thousand’s of small, medium and large breeding entities, and racing fans.

Let’s hope common sense triumphs and that this daft claim fails.


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