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The real future of Australian breeding

December 10, 2012

For years now we have heard of how well the Australian thoroughbred is going.  Well, certainly we have Black Caviar, but she struggled to beat the best that England has to offer at Ascot.  Sure there were excuses, but there will now always be that little question mark as to how superior she is to the overseas horses.  Now Black Caviar isn't just a top line sprinter.  She is after all touted as one of Australia's greatest ever, and her record is there for all to see.  Still, I doubt if many will argue that she has competed against a great generation of Australian sprinters.

Then of course we saw a spring where the Australian stayer was overshadowed by the Europeans.  Actually it wasn't particularly overshadowed, but clearly decimated by an industry that purchased moderately performed overseas horses that proved far superior to our own.

Not long ago we saw some of Darley's horses dominate local racing and being sent to contest the overseas riches.  It seemed only a matter of time until they dominated there like they did in Australia.  Unfortunately, the results were disappointing.

Then of course we have the argument, following on from this, that Australia loses many of its best horses to the strong Asian buying bench.  Which brings me to the results in Hong Kong over the weekend.  Clearly, Australian horses weren't quite up to the mark.  Not only this, but the best of our horses that were sold only to race in Hong Kong barely gave a yelp.  

The Japanese horses dominated, and this was on top of their impressive performances in Europe and at home in the Japan Cup.  In Australia, perhaps our horses have been flattered in that we have not seen any of these wonderful horses since the Melbourne Cup of 2006 when they clearly showed that they were superior stayers.  Makybe Diva even ventured to that country, and while trying hard, failed to quite match what I consider to be the best horses in the world.  The impressive win of Lord Kanaloa in Hong Kong underlined that the Japanese horses aren't just wonderful stayers, but most likely the benchmark for the international thoroughbred.

It is easy to sit back and ignore the growing trend that seems to have left our breeding industry behind.  There are many reasons why we have gone backwards, and the dominance of Northern Dancer and overseas lines have been critical in a move away from our traditional breed.  We have become essentially more focussed on breeding for the sales ring than the track, and the results cannot be continually ignored, or the long term viability of the breed will be at risk.

It only takes a cursory glance at most modern sales catalogues to see the prevalence of inbreeding to horses which have notably had flaws to see the danger signs. Just today we hear Peter Moody suggesting that Black Caviar should have won more prizemoney.  He also suggested that an International Day of racing would help share the pool.  Most awkwardly, an International Day of racing would see overseas horses dominate in my view.  Just remind me who won the Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate this year?  Imagine if we actually did have the world's best horses here.

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