Australia's Ban on AI Upheld by High Court

Ruling apparently ends five-year effort to legalize artificial insemination.

Sydney businessman and former bookmaker Bruce McHugh's efforts to overturn Australia's ban on artificial insemination in Thoroughbreds has ended after the Australian High Court turned down his appeal.

McHugh began his effort to legalize AI in 2009, contending the ban was anti-competitive and restraint of trade. AI is not allowed in Thoroughbred breeding under the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities' International Agreement.

In December 2012 Justice Alan Robertson ruled against McHugh. The federal court's rejection of the appeal and determination that the AI ban is not anti-competitive or a restraint on trade, apparently brings the case to a close.

"Had Mr. McHugh been successful in getting the ban on AI overturned, the Australian breeding industry faced the prospect of being ostracized on the world stage, with the possibility that horses bred domestically would have been barred from competing overseas or being recognized as Thoroughbreds in other jurisdictions," Thoroughbred Breeders Australia said in a statement.

"This is a very important day for Australian breeders and we're delighted with the court's ruling," TBA president Basil Nolan said. "Hopefully we don't have to go through this again, all it does is cost everybody money. I can't believe somebody who has got so much out of racing (McHugh) would put the racing industry to this expense. Thankfully we can now move on without this cloud hanging over us."

"If we lost this case Australia would have been a pariah state in world racing, with our horses unable to race internationally or be recognized by breeders overseas. In an increasingly globalized industry this would have been incredibly damaging," said Tom Reilly, TBA chief executive officer. "I'm sure people involved in the sport around the world would have been watching today's result closely and it will certainly give people confidence to invest in the Australian breeding industry."