A 60-year-old rule banning the use of artificial insemination to breed racehorses has been upheld by the Federal Court in what is considered to be a colossal win for the $3 billion local industry.
Sydney businessman, horse breeder and former bookmaker Bruce McHugh began preparing his legal case five years ago in an attempt to have the 1949 ban lifted.
Justice Alan Robertson rejected Mr McHugh’s argument that the ban represented a restraint of trade and a breach of the Trade Practices Act.
Mr McHugh has been provisionally ordered to pay the costs of three of his six opponents, which will run into millions of dollars.
Mr McHugh’s opponents – including the Australian Jockey Club, the Australian Racing Board and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia – argued that because of a global ban on racing AI-bred horses, his plan would threaten the lucrative trade selling home-grown yearlings overseas or to wealthy overseas buyers.
Inglis Bloodstock managing director Mark Webster, who spent a day in the witness box arguing against artificial insemination, hailed the ruling as “a pretty clear- cut, good outcome for the industry” that would end a protracted period of uncertainty for breeders.
“I don’t want to gloat about it from our perspective, but it’s a common-sense decision.”
Australia is the world’s second-largest producer of thoroughbred foals behind the United States.
I am not sure I would have said “it’s a common-sense decision.” Common sense IMO says otherwise. But a necessary decision. It would have had a profound and detrimental effect on the entire industry had it gone the other way. It would have completely changed the dynamics of the industry along with devastating financial repercussions for a lot of people and businesses that service the breeding industry.