In June, Harness Racing Australia announced new rules relating to the breeding sector of the industry, to be implemented for the upcoming season. You can read HBV's initial responses to Harness Racing Australia HERE (June) and HERE (July).
The committee received a response on August 10 from Andrew Kelly of HRA which did not address any of the questions HBV had on behalf of members regarding the business case supporting the rule changes, or the limited nature of the free returns concession.
HBV have since responded on behalf of HBV members and the breeding industry more broadly on July 30 (below), further reiterating our concerns about the impact on the foal crop of this rule if the inclusion of free returns is imposed for the opening season:
To: Harness Racing Australia
22 September 2020
Harness Breeders Victoria notes receipt of the letter sent by Andrew Kelly on behalf of HRA on 10 August 2020. The correspondence was discussed by members of the Executive and the committee thereafter.
The Committee continue to be disappointed in the failure of HRA to address the questions that HBV have previously proposed around the modelling and planning for this decision, and further by the limited nature of the ‘compromise’ made in regard to free returns.
We are still requesting, on behalf of our members and the breeding industry generally, the details and numbers used to determine the cap applied to the stallion limits and the justification and impact study for the implementation of this rule, and the timing of it so close to the start of the season when many commercial arrangements had already been made.
The decision to add 20 free returns for studs is inadequate and the method of management puts an unfair administrative burden on studs. Again, there was no data provided by HRA with the announcement to explain the number chosen or indeed, why free returns were to be included in the cap in the first place given the rushed nature of the introduction of this rule.
We maintain our call for an amnesty on this front for the 2020-21 season to enable the industry to best negotiate this new landscape in a way that will not risk reducing the number of foals on the ground next season. We maintain that a decision of this nature is vital and urgent. This remains an urgent issue for the industry and we maintain that the impact will be negative in a season that we cannot afford to have additional factors within the industry’s control impacting on the potential foal crop.
The concession outlined in August does not, in the opinion of our experienced committee, alleviate the issues raised in our last correspondence and again call on HRA to further act on this rule where free returns are concerned, or at the very least provide breeders with some rationale as to how this approach is a positive, necessary limitation when it comes to boosting foal numbers in 2021.
We genuinely hope that HRA can provide a detailed, industry-focused response that we can provide to our members who still fail to understand the benefits of the rule change in its entirety, let alone the free return limits and the rushed introduction but see very clear negatives.