Horse welfare inquiry recommends licensed breeders

Horse welfare inquiry recommends licensed breeders

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Phillip Bate analyses news from the Queensland racing scene.

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QUEENSLAND racing authorities have been directed to work with Racing Australia to have breeders licensed and impose stricter protocols at horses being bred - both on a national basis.

They are two of the 55 recommendations made in the Martin Inquiry into animal cruelty in the management of retired Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses in Queensland which was handed down on February 10.

The government called the inquiry last October after the ABC's 7.30 program reported on the treatment of horses at a Queensland abattoir.

The inquiry was headed by retired district court judge Terry Martin SC, with the support of Australian Veterinary Association representative Dr Peter Reid and oversight from the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission.

Queensland racing authorities have been directed to work with Racing Australia to have breeders licensed on a national basis. Picture: Down the Straight

Queensland racing authorities have been directed to work with Racing Australia to have breeders licensed on a national basis. Picture: Down the Straight

The government accepted 37 recommendations in full, 17 recommendations in principle and one recommendation in part.

The recommendations include:

  • Racing Queensland advocates for Thoroughbred breeders to be licensed through Racing Australia.
  • Racing Queensland advocates for Standardbred breeders to be licensed through Harness Racing Australia.
  • The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) establishes a breeder licensing process and standard requiring applicants to demonstrate knowledge and competency. Those who consistently breed horses which do not make it into training should be excluded from holding a licence.
  • The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries takes steps to amend the Racing Integrity Act, if necessary, to expand the purposes for which a standard for a licensing scheme for a code of racing can be made to provide for the licensing of breeders.
  • Racing Queensland advocates for Racing Australia and Harness Racing Australia to introduce a welfare levy to be added to the current foal birth notification and stallion return fees. The size of this levy be sufficient to act as a deterrent to indiscriminate and poor quality breeding and make a meaningful contribution to the pool of funds available to support the rehoming programs being run by the control bodies in each state.
  • Racing Queensland advocates for Racing Australia and Harness Racing Australia to develop a sustainable breeding model for racing in Australia that balances the need for industry sustainability with the need to ensure good welfare outcomes for horses bred for racing.
  • In the absence of national agreement, Racing Queensland develops a sustainable breeding model for racing in Queensland.

Stressing the need for a national approach in implementing a licensing process and the introduction of welfare levies attached to foal birth notifications and stallion returns, Justice Martin recognised that applying these changes in Queensland alone will likely only create disadvantage for Queensland breeders and, possibly, new welfare issues. Therefore, it is recommended that Racing Queensland, whose chairman (Steve Wilson) also chairs Racing Australia's Animal Welfare Committee, advocates for these changes at a national level.

Thoroughbred industry has welfare strategy

WELCOMING the Martin recommendations, TBA chief executive officer Tom Reilly said the Thoroughbred industry had just last week announced a strategy to develop a national horse welfare regime.

"Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA), the Australian Trainers' Association (ATA) and the Australian Jockeys' Association (AJA) along with other stakeholders have established an Independent Working Group. Headed by former Victorian premier and racing minister Dr Denis Napthine, the taskforce will review the current welfare landscape in the Australian Thoroughbred industry, look to world's best practice, consult with participants in the industry, and draw upon the learnings from other animal industries.

Former Victorian premier and racing minister Dr Denis Napthine will head the Independent Working Group.

Former Victorian premier and racing minister Dr Denis Napthine will head the Independent Working Group.

"The TBA has also said repeatedly that there should be a conversation about the size of the foal crop as part of a broader review of the industry. The TBA board is already considering what constitutes responsible breeding and this is a discussion that should be led by participants," Mr Reilly said.

Dr Napthine has welcomed support from Nationals deputy leader and federal agriculture minister David Littleproud, who last week committed to putting Thoroughbred welfare on the agenda at the next agricultural ministers meeting later this month and promising to make the resources of the federal department available to the taskforce.

Breeder licensing model

Jockeys fight out the finish at Goondiwindi. In future, horse breeders could be subject to a breeder licensing model similar to that already in place for trainers, jockeys and harness drivers licensed for racing. Picture: Three Way Photos

Jockeys fight out the finish at Goondiwindi. In future, horse breeders could be subject to a breeder licensing model similar to that already in place for trainers, jockeys and harness drivers licensed for racing. Picture: Three Way Photos

THE Martin Report said a breeder licensing model, similar to that already in place for trainers, jockeys and drivers licensed for racing, would better support the outcomes the inquiry is seeking to achieve.

Under the QRIC's existing Standard for Licensing Scheme (Thoroughbreds) applicants for trainer licences are required to have relevant experience and demonstrate skills and competence through their training success and an absence of recent, previous disqualifications.

"To be licensed as a jockey for Thoroughbred racing in Queensland, an applicant must have completed an approved apprenticeship. Requests to upgrade a jockey licence to a higher category of licence may include consideration of the jockey's riding record and technical skill level.

"By establishing eligibility criteria, including the skills, experience and qualifications required to be an effective breeder, and an auditing process to ensure licensed breeders continue to be suitable to be licensed, breeding quality and welfare standards would be improved," the report said.

The report said accredited training courses for the breeding of horses providing excellent guidance for the types of skills and knowledge requirements that could underpin a licensing framework for racing horse breeders, could include:

  • Identifying desirable and undesirable characteristics when selecting sires and dams.
  • Nutritional and welfare requirements of pregnant mares, including foaling hygiene.
  • Identifying and minimising breeding-related health problems and injuries.
  • Caring for neo-natal foals (including ill foals);
  • Responding to foaling emergencies.
  • Fitting and using breeding equipment.
  • Biosecurity obligations and procedures.
  • Correct facility and property design to ensure welfare and reduce accidents and injury.

"That is not to say that current registered breeders, with a demonstrated ability to breed horses which regularly go on to a career in racing, should be required to undertake accredited training courses and any breeder licensing model developed should recognise previous, successful industry experience.

"All breeders should, though, be required to demonstrate their ongoing suitability to be licensed through competency-related criteria for licence renewals, or upgrades, such as the number of horses bred that make it into training for racing and a demonstrated history of successfully rehoming horses that are not suitable for racing or have come to the end of their breeding careers," the report said.

Country greats honoured in Emerald

On The Bit Queensland Country Racing Gala Awards champion horse Deadly Choices and champion jockey Dan Ballard combine to win last November's Country Cups Challenge at Doomben. Picture: Racing Queensland

On The Bit Queensland Country Racing Gala Awards champion horse Deadly Choices and champion jockey Dan Ballard combine to win last November's Country Cups Challenge at Doomben. Picture: Racing Queensland

MT ISA galloper Deadly Choices has been named Horse of the Year at the second annual On The Bit Queensland Country Racing Gala Awards night, after a dominant 2019 where he won seven of nine starts - including a current six-win streak.

The function was held in Emerald on Saturday night, celebrating and honouring the successes of regional industry participants.

The last of Deadly Choices' wins came in the TAB Country Cups Challenge Final at Doomben in November, where the Damien Finter trained gelding scored an impressive one-length victory.

It was fitting that Deadly Choices' jockey Dan Ballard was subsequently named Jockey of the Year. Ballard, one of Brisbane's leading apprentice jockeys in the late 90s, made the move north to work in the mines but still maintains his passion for riding on the weekends.

Bevan Johnson rounded out the major awards, taking out Trainer of the Year after his third successive Country Queensland Trainers Premiership in season 2018/19. Johnson, who again sits atop of the current standings, was quick to make mention of the effort that his family put in to make his stable so successful. "Even though it's my name on the trophy, it's really my daughter and wife there as well and that's what makes Johnson Racing," Johnson said.

The night was further highlighted by guest speaker Black Caviar trainer and Charleville boy Peter Moody, who spoke about his ongoing passion for Queensland's racing industry. "It was terrific for me to be involved. My heart lies in regional and rural racing Australia-wide and being a Queensland country boy. It's important that we celebrate our country people - in all facets of life but obviously for our racing community," he said.

Jack Murray of the Eidsvold Race Club was crowned Club Person of the Year - a fine acknowledgement for more than 60 years of dedicated service to the regional industry.

The ceremonies concluded with six inductees welcomed into the On The Bit Country Queensland Hall of Fame. Trainers John Manzelmann, Neville Peoples and Les McLennan were honoured, as well as jockey Ken Waller and industry participant Jack Murray. Miss Petty - winner of 22 consecutive bush races in the 80s for Blackall trainer Charlie Prow - was also inducted.

Full list of award winners:

  • Club person / Volunteer of the Year: Jack Murray.
  • Non-TAB Race of the Year: Ewan Cup.
  • TAB Meeting of the Year: Roma Cup.
  • Non-TAB Meeting of the Year: Alpha Cup.
  • Media Personality of the Year: Andrew Watts.
  • Personality of the Year: Matt Peters.
  • Newcomer of the Year: Jade Doolan.
  • Apprentice of the Year: Emma Bell.
  • Horse of the Year: Deadly Choices.
  • Jockey of the Year: Dan Ballard.
  • Trainer of the Year: Bevan Johnson.
  • Hall of Fame Personality: Jack Murray.
  • Hall of Fame Jockey: Ken Waller.
  • Hall of Fame Horse: Miss Petty.
  • Hall of Fame Trainer: John Manzelmann, Neville Peoples and Leslie McLellan.

Inglis Classic yearling sale

Queensland vendor Canning Downs, Warwick, sold a Deep Field/Wind Shift colt for $230,000 at this year's Inglis Classic yearling sale. Picture: Inglis

Queensland vendor Canning Downs, Warwick, sold a Deep Field/Wind Shift colt for $230,000 at this year's Inglis Classic yearling sale. Picture: Inglis

THE Inglis Classic Yearling Sale in Sydney, NSW last week with significant increases across the board, - not only in Book 1 but the popular Highway Session as well.

Book 1 closed with an average of $87,833 - a 16 per cent year-on-year increase - while the Highway Session's healthy average of $38,178 was a 51pc jump on the inaugural session of 2019.

Inglis managing director Mark Webster was thrilled with the Classic sale overall, especially considering the at-times extraordinary weather clients faced.

"When reviewing the results of the Classic sale it is worth reflecting on its rapid growth over the past five years. In 2015 this sale grossed just $19m and a $41,000 average; the gross is more than double that now ($47m), as has the average at $88,000 for Book 1," he said.

The broad buying bench came from all over Australia as well as China, France, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States.

Top sale price was $380,000 paid on Day 2 by Hong Kong buyer Ricky Yiu for a Deep Field/Raheights colt - a half-brother to the first horse ever sold at the new Inglis Riverside complex at Warwick Farm at the 2018 Inglis Classic yearling sale.

Queensland vendor Canning Downs Stud, Warwick, was prominent on Day 3 topping the final session with a Deep Field/Wind Shift colt sold to Regal Farm Partnership/Upper Bloodstock/Teng Long and McKeever Bloodstock for $230,000. The colt will likely be pin-hooked back through the Inglis Ready2Race Sale at Riverside in October. Canning Downs sold four yearlings to gross $532,000.

All told, 168 horses across the catalogue realised $100,000 or more - up from 150 in 2019 - despite a reduction of more than 200 horses catalogued for the sale. Eight of those yearlings sold for $300,000 or more with Queensland vendor KBL Thoroughbreds, Beaudesert, selling a Starcraft (NZ)/Sky Rubi colt for $340,000 to George Moore Bloodstock, Hong Kong.

KBL sold five yearlings to gross $705,000. Other Queensland vendors were: Glenlogan Park (five - $530,000); Grandview (four - $233,000); Highgrove (three - $365,000); and Kenmore Lodge (11 - $958,000)

The Highway Session, which followed Book 1, was again an overwhelming success in just its second year. The session was topped by a Scissor Kick/Phaedra colt from Arrowfield selling to Queensland bloodstock agent John Foote for $160,000. "He'll go to Hong Kong. I bought his half-brother a few years ago and he went to Hong Kong and has done well. I've bought more than 20 horses this week - a lot more than I thought I would. Quite a few are for Hong Kong and the rest for people in Melbourne and Brisbane," he said.

2020 CLASSIC YEARLING SALE STATISTICS - BOOK 1 (2019 figures in brackets)

Lots catalogued: 613 (808)

Lots Sold: 473 (599)

Clearance Rate: 85pc (83pc)

Average Price: $87,833 ($75,782)

Median Price: $75,000 ($52,500)

Top Price: $380,000 ($550,000)

Gross: $41,650,500 ($45,393,250)

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