A worrying sign - NZ breeding figures down

01:07 AM 03 Jun 2011 NZST
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The issue of the sire service returns for the 2010/11 New Zealand breeding season make interesting reading and provide food for thought for our administrators as they plot a path forward to rescue the beleaguered harness racing industry.

A total of 3530 matings are recorded. This does not equate to the number of mares bred as there are in several cases multiple breedings for mares for one reason or another. Also these figures are for New Zealand matings only. They do not include mares bred in Australia.

Boom Woodlands Stud based sire Bettor's Delight (Cam's Card Shark) topped the list with 327 mares up from 159 the previous season. Newcomer to the stallion ranks the multiple group 1 winning pacer Changeover (In The Pocket) attracted a book of 225 mares giving him a great start to his career.

Third on the list with 142 was Elsu (Falcon Seelster) down from 211 the previous season. Occupying fourth position on the list was Gotta Go Cullect (Christian Cullen) with 126. Rounding out the top five is the legendary super sire Christian Cullen (In The Pocket) with 125.

It is pleasing to note that four of the top five positions are held by New Zealand bred sires.

One or two sires suffered drastic reductions in the numbers of ladies in their court. Mach Three (Matt's Scooter) down to 111 from 219 and McArdle (Falcon Seelster) down from 177 to 88. Reductions in the vicinity of 50%.

The Nevele R Stud pair of Badlands Hanover (Western Hanover) down from 159 to 95 and Live Or Die (Die Laughing) down from 139 to 81 also suffered big reductions.

It might be a long road back for these stallions. Studs will have to consider the pricing and future of them, Elsu (Falcon Seelster) had a drop from 221 to 142 but a post new year boom will see his fortunes rise next season in the number of consorts that will arrive for him.

In the trotting ranks there were no major movements although veteran sire Sundon did serve a reduced book down to 81 from 118 while Monarchy was stable going from 90 to 91.

The most alarming feature is the drop of mares covered 3530. In the 200/01 season it was 4879 and in the 1990/91 season it was 6700. This should set alarm bells off across the industry. Northern clubs in particular are struggling for field size now. With the reduced number of mares being bred from this struggle will only get worse.

So may be the number of permits need to be reduced and patrons can expect the number of races per programme to tumble especially when there is back to back racing with Cambridge raceway running a Thursday night meeting followed by an meeting at Alexandra park the next night.

Club administrators need to bury parochial pride and work together to ensure the industry moves forward, Stake money alone will not arrest the burgeoning export market to Australia. With the numbers available to race rapidly declining then a plan must be put in place now rather than wait for it to happen.

by Malcolm MULLIGAN 

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