09/12/2007 12:00AM

Australian breeders may sue government

EmailA group of Australian breeders are contemplating a class action lawsuit against Australia's federal government over its handling of the equine influenza crisis that has brought the country's lucrative breeding season to a near standstill.

One of the breeders who said he will join the proposed suit is Damien Flower, who campaigned Australian Group 1 winner Snitzel and now stands him at Arrowfield Stud.

"When you consider that a stallion like Snitzel services some 150 mares a year at $33,000 a service, the loss in income quickly adds up," Flower told Dynamic Business magazine. "Breeders, bloodstock agents, and related breeding players will be affected, not only now, but in the future when these foals were to be sold."

At issue is a government offer to compensate the country's breeders for a nationwide transport ban with a $110 million package, which attorneys for the aggrieved breeders and other parties in the Thoroughbred industry believe is inadequate.

"Many businesses, individuals, and their families will suffer major loss before a cause of the outbreak is established, with many unable to recover at all," lawyer Matthew Horn of Sydney's Clinch Neville Long Letherbarrow firm said in a statement issued to media.

Meanwhile, Dr. Tom Simon's Vinery operation, which has stud farms in Kentucky and Australia, became the latest Bluegrass farm to offer its Kentucky stallions to stand on southern hemisphere time for Australian breeders who have mares outside their country and available for covering.