12/19/2012 3:38PM

Australian court rules against artificial insemination


A federal judge in Australia ruled on a case Wednesday that could have global implications for the Thoroughbred breeding industry, upholding the prohibition of artificial insemination for registered Thoroughbreds.

The ruling, reported in the Sydney Morning Herald and on Bloomberg’s website, wrapped up a four-month trial and a year of deliberation born of a lawsuit by Bruce McHugh, a former chairman of the Sydney Turf Club, against the Australian Turf Club. McHugh argued that the outlawing of artificial insemination was an illegal trade restraint for his breeding business and said it violated the country’s competition and consumer act.

Ian Tonking, McHugh’s attorney, also said that the advent of DNA identification has caused the old rule to outlive its purpose, which was to prevent fraud and reduce errors in the registration of Thoroughbreds.

Federal Court Justice Alan Robertson did not buy McHugh’s argument, saying the plaintiff could set up a separate register for Thoroughbreds bred through artificial insemination. Robertson said that the plaintiff must show that trade restraint was unreasonable when artificial insemination was prohibited, and affirmed that when the rule was created several decades ago, such trade restraint was reasonable.

“Whether Thoroughbreds bred by artificial insemination should or should not be permitted to race [was not a consideration]”, the judge said. “The application fails on the legal grounds on which it was brought.”

Had the judge sided with McHugh, Australia would have become the first jurisdiction to allow artificial insemination in its Thoroughbred racing and breeding industries. Other flat racing breeds–Quarter Horses and Arabians–already allow artificial insemination in their breeding programs.

“The dismissal of the challenge is a good outcome and I welcome it,” said Louis Romanet, chairman of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, who testified against artificial insemination. “The definition of what is a Thoroughbred is set out clearly in the International Agreement on Breeding, Racing and Wagering and is adopted by all of the IFHA Members countries throughout the world. It requires a natural covering."

Adam Sangster, principal of prominent Australian breeding operation Swettenham Stud and a board member of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, also praised the judge’s ruling. “It’s a huge relief for the Australian racing economy,'' Sangster said in the Sydney Morning Herald. ''I think that globally, logic came through, and one only needs to look at the standardbred [harness] industry and the decimation of their breeding industry [in Australia] to imagine what it would have done to thoroughbreds—it would have been a disaster.''

Mike Hummel More than 1 year ago
Why AI is good for the game: 1. it opens up breeding to a worldwide market. I can't breed my mare in KY to a stallion in Australia, but I can with AI. The concern has been that AI will cause certain lines to dominate, but that is essentially the case now. How many TB's will run today that can be traced back to Northern Dancer? How many to Mr. Prospector? How many to neither? 2. AI reduces cost. Competition will decrease stallion fees due to the inventory of available stallions. The costs of transporting the broodmare to the cover will be eliminated. 3. AI is safer. Accidents in the breeding shed are commonplace with 1000+ animals in an excited sexual state. Additionally, mares who cannot handle the physical stress of live cover due to injury may be able to conceive. In short, the major breeders, the vets, and the horse transport folks, to name just a few, all have a vested interest in continuing with an outdated live cover process. I've never met Mr. Sangster, but asking him if AI is good for the horse is like asking the fox if guarding the chicken coop is a good idea.
Kyri Freeman More than 1 year ago
I believe it is better for the horses to breed via natural service... also AI allows stallions to produce more foals which can turn out to be unwanted... better to go with the natural cover IMO.
ron More than 1 year ago
if this ever happens in the u.s./can.it would be the startof a disasterto the breeders. or any where else as far as that goes. ron a player