04/17/2014 11:15AM

Appeal against artificial insemination ban struck down in Australia


The Federal Court of Australia issued a unanimous judgment Thursday in denying an appeal by Bruce McHugh that sought to overturn the country’s ban on artificial insemination of Thoroughbreds.

The ruling upholds the rules of the Australian Stud Book with regards to breeding Thoroughbreds and denies McHugh’s contention that banning artificial insemination restricts his right to free trade.

McHugh, a former bookmaker and racing official, brought his lawsuit in 2011, arguing that the restriction of Thoroughbred breeding to “live cover” practices was anti-competitive and a breach of Australia’s Trade Practices Act. Justice Alan Robertson ruled against the legalization of artificial insemination in December 2012, leading McHugh to appeal.

The case was followed closely by international breeders, as many leading stallions from the U.S. and Europe regularly shuttle to Australia for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season. Artificial insemination is commonly used in Quarter Horse and Standardbred breeding but is not allowed for registered Thoroughbreds on a global basis as per the bylaws of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.

Australian Racing Board chairman John Messara of Arrowfield Stud praised the court decision in a statement, saying, “The issue of artificial insemination is settled once and for all. [The Racing Board has] said from the outset that our sport was not anti-competitive or a restraint of trade as proponents of artificial insemination are perfectly free to establish their own industry. Fortunately, the Federal Court agreed with us.

“Racing and breeding has many challenges now and into the future, and the finality of this case will allow us to concentrate fully on what matters most to participants, punters, and stakeholders.”