Day At The Track

Breeders don't support Harness Racing Australia

04:32 PM 09 Sep 2020 NZST
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Sweet Lou, harness racing
Sweet Lou is one of the five stallions that bred over 150 mares last season

Harness Racing Australia has gone ahead and put Rules in place just weeks before the breeding season and failed to consult properly with stakeholders.

More mares are bred in Victoria than any other state yet the Harness Racing Breeders Association of Victoria executive were waiting for answers when Harness Racing Australia announced the limits.

How many stallions does this affect?

Based on the 2019 figures five stallions served over 150 mares; Art Major, American Ideal, Always B Miki, Sweet Lou and the deceased Alta Christiano.  

After contacting the Harness Racing Breeders Association of each state it is clear they do not accept that a proper consultative process has taken place.

Based on the number of outraged breeders contacting Alabar Australia and Woodlands Stud it appears the majority of commercial broodmare owners are against the HRA proposal as it is written. 

There is no one that is against limiting books but it needs to be properly worked out with consideration of free returns and other economic considerations.

Below is the outline of the letter written to Andrew Kelly. A reply from the HRA board is expected this week.

1. Phase limits in:
There should be no limit for 2020 season, 180 plus returns for 2021 season,150 plus returns for 2022 and beyond:
Reasons why? 
a) Implementing changes at this late stage of the season simply makes it all too hard to implement without creating upheaval and ill feeling between HRA and both broodmare owners and Studs.
b) there will be cases when travel and delivery of semen due to  Covid -19 will not reach a mare when needed and having flexibility has never been more important than this 2020 season.
c)  the follow-on economic effects of Covid-19 means 2021 will have its challenges. By 2022 we hope to see some sense of normality.
d) HRA should follow the example of other countries. The implementation of stallion limits would  normally be done over several years seasons as what happened with USTA. The overseas experience of limiting books has always provided a lead-in time to allow corrections to the worth of stallions being purchased or syndicated. The latest example was the Jockey Club (USA) where limits were introduced this year.
The conditions were that a limit of 140 but starts for those stallions born in the 2020 foal crop. All stallions born 2019 and before  are not affected as they were valued for syndication differently . There is no mention of free returns in the Jockey Club Rules because there are no live foal guarantees to consider as it is “pay on live foal” (POLF). Attached Jockey Club rule below.

2. Remove the limit of 20 on free returns

There should be no limit or other conditions imposed on a genuine free return:

a) There have been instances in NZ and Australia over the years where through no fault of the stud or stallion more than 20 free returns have occurred in any one season. These can be the accumulation of returns over previous seasons or unexpected losses from climatic changes or infection. For instance an abortion outbreak can cause significant unforeseen losses well in excess of 20 per stallion, as happened in 2001 with Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome (MRLS) in the U.S. state of Kentucky when some farms had between 20% to 30% of pregnant mares aborting.How can a stud be expected to carry the uncertainty of such a loss of income with no recourse of providing free returns to all losses if required?

b) the broodmare owner should be able to transfer a free return and use another mare. The first mare may no longer be a viable breeding proposition,or a substitute maybe a more fertile option, or the mare died and needs replacing are examples why this makes sense. 

c) I see a big difference on how free returns are adopted in future by studs if there is a limit imposed. In the T’Bred a standard free return is only provided for the first 24 hours of the foal’s life and thereafter it is the mare owner who takes the risk or insures the foal. In S’Bred's studs more often than not they provide free returns for foals that die much later than 24 hours, in some cases months later. That eases the burden of the broodmare owner carrying insurance from 24 hours. Under the current proposed HRA 20 free return criteria stallion owners could not allow this leniency to continue towards the breeder.

d) Free returns are easy enough to police with the studbook registrations checking each free return is valid, and the registered stallion owner would have to justify the free return number yearly with HRA.

I declare my conflict of interest as co owner in Woodlands Stud and the stallions Sweet Lou and American Ideal.

Andrew Grierson

Woodlands Stud


Thursday, May 07, 2020

The Jockey Club Adopts Rule Regarding Thoroughbred Stallion Breedings

The Jockey Club board of stewards today announced that it has adopted a final rule limiting the annual breeding of individual stallions. The rule reflects The Jockey Club’s goal to preserve the health of the Thoroughbred breed for the long term and will apply prospectively to stallions born in 2020 or later. Effective today, The Jockey Club’s Principal Rules and Requirements of the American Studbook are amended by adding the following italicized language to the text of Rule 14C: C.

Based on the information on a completed Report of Mares Bred form, The Jockey Club will forward to the stallion owner, lessee or authorized agent a preprinted Service Certificate for each broodmare bred, including the name of the stallion, the name of the broodmare, the name of the dam of the broodmare, and the date of the last cover.

The total number of broodmares bred per individual stallion whose year of birth is 2020 or thereafter shall not exceed 140 per calendar year in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The Jockey Club shall limit the number of Stallion Service Certificates for such stallions to a maximum of 140 per calendar year.

When the stallion owner, lessee or authorized agent receives the preprinted Service Certificate, it should be examined for accuracy, signed by the stallion owner, lessee or authorized agent and forwarded to the breeder of the foal or submitted to The Jockey Club through Interactive Registration™ at The Service Certificate is required to register a foal. Service Certificates will not be issued unless a completed Report of Mares Bred form is on file at The Jockey Club and until genetic or re-DNA typing of the stallion has been completed (see Rule 5).

In an effort to illustrate the operation of the new rule, The Jockey Club offers the following examples of how it will be applied:

(1) For stallions born in 2019 and earlier, there will be no limit to the number of mares reported bred in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The Jockey Club will issue stallion certificates for all mares bred by such stallions within the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico during a calendar year.

(2) For stallions born in 2020 and later, the maximum number of mares covered within the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico in a calendar year will be 140. It would be a violation of Rule 14C for such a stallion to cover more than 140 mares within the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico during a calendar year. The aforementioned limit will apply to all mares bred during a calendar year regardless of when The Jockey Club receives a Report of Mares bred (or any amendments or supplements thereto).

The Jockey Club will modify its Report of Mares Bred form and other related forms in recognition of the amendment to Rule 14. Stallion Service Certificates will be issued on the basis of first cover date in the order of mares listed on the Report of Mares Bred.

The Jockey Club is grateful for the many thoughtful comments in response to its September rule proposal. The stewards carefully considered those comments in formulating a rule that will promote diversity of the Thoroughbred gene pool and protect the long-term health of the breed.

The Jockey Club will continue to maintain the Principal Rules and Requirements of the American Studbook in keeping with its mission to ensure the health of the Thoroughbred breed. The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club, directly or through subsidiaries, provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives, and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms. It is the sole funding source for America’s Best Racing, the broad-based fan development initiative for Thoroughbred racing. You can follow America’s Best Racing at Additional information is available at


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