The upcoming years in Australia will be effected in many ways following the devastation caused by equine influenza, in particular on the racetracks. For instance, while Victoria remained, astonishingly, EI free for the duration of the crisis in Australia, broodmare owners in Victoria had no option but to send their mares to Victorian-based stallions. As a result we now have a set of statistics that defy belief.
With many leading stallions locked-down in quarantine for the initial part of the season, and travel throughout Australia being suspended for the first three months of the breeding season (especially those headed for the horse rich population in the New South Wales Hunter Valley), Victoria’s Eliza Park-based sire, former champion Australian 2-year-old and multiple grade I winner Bel Esprit (Royal Academy-Bespoken, by Vain) covered an Australian record of 264 mares. Read that again - 264 mares in a five months period from one barn in one country. No shuttling - although given that his debut crop is outstanding and that his future gallopers will stamp themselves through sheer force of numbers, connections are open to the prospect of shuttling. His prodigious powers in the barn surpassed the 245 set by Coolmore's champion sire Encosta de Lago in 2005.
Bel Esprit (whose previous high-mark was 210 mares in 2006) stood this season for Aus$20,000 (U.S.$18,000).
Other Victorian stallions to benefit from the EI crisis to the point where they too passed the 200 mares mark included: Swettenham Stud’s Dash For Cash (by Secret Savings got 221 mares) while standing at $14,850; Bluegum Farm's Elvstroem (by Danehill - 220) standing at $35,000; and fellow Eliza Park sire God's Own (by Redoute's Choice -202) standing at $33,000. Eliza Park is owned by Lee Fleming whose father bred U.S. champion galloper A.P. Warrior.
Meanwhile in the beleaguered Hunter Valley only Coolmore’s Fastnet Rock (by Danehill) passed the 200-mark: he covered 252 mares, but he was resident at the farm when the virus hit and was allowed to serve mares based at the farm, he stood at $55,000. Other Coolmore books included: Fusaichi Pegasus (by Mr Prospector - got 151,including triple Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva); Rock Of Gibraltar (by Danehill - 192); Encosta De Lago (by Fairy King - 191); and new comer Holy Roman Emperor (by Danehill - 131).
At Arrowfield Stud, Australia’s highest-priced stallion, Danehill's grade I-winning son Redoute’s Choice (delayed for two months after contracting equine influenza) covered 162 mares (his advertised fee was $330,000 - U.S.$300,000).