A storm is brewing in Australia as the ramifications of equine influenza now have infiltrated the auction markets.
Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria president Mike Becker has written to Victorian Racing Minister Rob Hulls and other relevant Victorian authorities calling for the current ban on interstate horses to remain in full force so that NSW yearlings being entered for the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale in March, are not allowed to come. Becker told the media: "We don’t have a problem with equine influenza in Victoria, and we want to keep it that way."
Last year, the Premier auction sold 461 horses for an average of AUS$60,206 and a median of AUS$45,000. The top-priced horse, a colt by Encosta de Lago out of New Smyrna (by Rancho Ruler), brought AUS$420,000.
In response, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia chairman John Messara said he was "disappointed" with Becker’s comments and noted a lockout of NSW horses would have "chaotic" repercussions on the industry in many ways. Messara (who will meet other breeders and Racing NSW on Monday "to address the issue of sales and horse movement") emphasised he believed only vaccinated horses would be allowed to travel interstate to the sales, but said a decision "needed to be made quickly, given the time required to print catalogues and properly inform buyers".
Inglis Melbourne director Peter Heagney said the final decision rests with the Victorian Department Of Primary Industries.
So the battle lines are drawn. The rivalry that exists between NSW and Victorian breeders has always been strong and it seems now the Vics are taking full advantage of the wounded, crippled nature of the NSW breeders.
Meanwhile, showing just how sensitive the horse movement matter still is in Australia, the NSW Department Of Primary Industries announced that a Canberra man "has been charged with illegally moving two horses across the NSW border into Victoria." Police allege the man "jumped the border late at night on September 28 via a back route near Bombala, taking two ponies to a property at Heyfield, 200km east of Melbourne." The man has been summonsed to appear in Queanbeyan Local Court on December 3.