10/17/2014 11:34AM

Bid for artificial insemination ends in Australia


The Australian High Court denied former bookmaker-turned-breeder Bruce McHugh a special leave to appeal on Friday, ending his bid to allow Thoroughbreds conceived by artificial insemination into the country’s breed registry.

The decision ended a four-year pursuit for AI in Thoroughbred breeding for McHugh, who initially filed suit in 2011 claiming that limiting breeding to live cover was a restraint of trade. If successful, Australia would have become the first major global racing jurisdiction to allow AI, and opponents of McHugh’s suit argued that it would have made them ineligible to breed or race elsewhere.

A lower court judge ruled against McHugh in December 2012 after a six-week trial, citing rules set forth by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities International Agreement. McHugh appealed the decision to the Federal Court of Australia, but was defeated again in April.

With Friday’s ruling, McHugh has exhausted all avenues to overturn the country’s AI guideline, which has been in place since 1947.

“Australian racing would have been reduced to a small and insular domestic industry if AI had been imposed on it,” said Australian Racing Board CEO Peter McGauran. “The major racing jurisdictions around the world gave evidence that our black type would not be recognized and exports refused. Naturally such exclusion would have been to our great disadvantage.

“Australia is the second-largest racing nation after America and plays a major role internationally,” McGauran continued. “We provide many of the world’s best jockeys, stewards, administrators and horses. Today’s decision removes any doubt about the industry’s future and provides certainty.”

McHugh, the former chairman of the Sydney Turf Club, was also ordered to pay court costs for the case’s four industry defendants, which is reported to be in the millions of dollars.