By Ric ChapmanAustralia's best racehorse, Lonhro (Octagonal--Shadea), will retire to stud in about three weeks.But before he does he has two more group I races to contest. Currently he has won 25 of his 33 starts for $5.3 million (U.S. $4,094,881) and is widely recognized on Web sites across the world as one of the top three racehorses alive.His value to the southern hemisphere breeding community in particular is beyond estimate. His colonial pedigree, sheer physical presence, and racetrack prowess have made him a runaway favorite with racing fans. Now he takes on the best stallions in the world at stud in Australia this year and today his stud fee was announced.He will stand at a record debut Australian price of $66,000 (U.S. $50,500)."The early interest in Lonhro's retirement to stud has been quite amazing, with breeders in Australia and New Zealand awaiting the announcement of his service fee," smiled Woodlands Stud manager Trevor Lobb. "For a horse of his caliber, with a record to date, of 25 wins (10 at group I level), two seconds, and two thirds from 33 race starts and earnings of more than $5.3 million, we felt that this fee is sensitive to the aspirations of breeders." Lobb also announced that more than 100 mares have been booked to the champ already--and the Australian breeding season does not start until Sept. 1.Woodlands Stud also races horses and Lonhro has been its flag-bearer for three years now. His full-brother, Niello, claimed his third group I win last week and already has assumed the role of the stud farm's champion-in-waiting. Woodlands stud has many great broodmares and a stack of them will be made available to Lonhro. "He will have the best book of mares any Australian stallion has had on debut," boasted Lobb."He possesses a great pedigree and his physical appearance speaks for itself. We will be supporting him with our best mares which means the available public nominations will be limited. But we expect about 125 on debut."Lonhro's father, Octagonal, won 11 group I races and has served big books at around $50,000 for the past four years.