Australian Court Upholds Breeding Practices

Court denies efforts to allow artificial insemination in Thoroughbred breeding.

A federal Australian court has denied a request by prominent owner-breeder Bruce McHugh to allow artificial insemination in Thoroughbred breeding.

In upholding the current Thoroughbred breeding standard that requires a mare to be covered, Justice Alan Robertson ruled Dec. 19 that McHugh's argument that the current breeding policies restrain trade comes up short on evidence. McHugh, a former bookmaker and former chairman of Sydney Turf Club, will have 21 days to appeal.

Louis Romanet, the chairman of the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities, applauded the court's decision.

"The dismissal of the challenge is a good outcome, and I welcome it. The definition of what is a Thoroughbred is set out clearly in the International Agreement on Breeding, Racing, and Wagering and is adopted by all of the IFHA members' countries throughout the world," Romanet said. "It requires a natural covering."

Romanet and Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, both offered testimony opposing artificial insemination.

The court heard from 30 witnesses in a six-month period and took about a year to reach a decision. Judge Robertson noted that allowing artificial insemination in Australia would have resulted in the country falling out of step with international standards.

"The effect on competition of the international consequences, that is, on the evidence, that in a world where prohibition was overturned in Australia, the status of Thoroughbred races held in Australia would be downgraded," said the court's decision.