Several significant changes have recently been announced by Harness Racing Australia that have the potential to impact heavily on the upcoming breeding season and beyond.
Harness Breeders Victoria has issued the following correspondence to Harness Racing Australia and we look forward to sharing any response as it is received:
To: Harness Racing Australia
23 June 2020
We write regarding your announcement of 16 June, 2020 that you intend to make significant changes to the breeding rules in relation to stallion limits and the treatment of dead, disappeared or gelded stallions.
You have not published to date the reasons or basis for your decisions. As per our submission to HRA/HRV we have trouble understanding how this decision can be arrived at without adequate research into the genetic and commercial issues at the heart of the matter.
We are interested in how you arrived at the decision to impose stallion limits and what benefits HRA believe they will produce, including any evidence to support your position. We also seek the basis for the 150 service limit and how it was arrived at.
Can you advise what consultation occurred with Harness Racing New Zealand, as our understanding is no stallion limits are currently proposed there. It is important that both countries align as we effectively operate as an Australasian market. Both countries rely on each other in so many ways and the impact of having two sets of rules around breeding will have significant roll on effects, which potentially place Australia at a disadvantage.
For the record, we are open minded on the possibility of the introduction of stallion limits, subject to adequate research.
In relation to the dead, disappeared or gelded stallions rule change, we would be pleased to understand the reasoning behind this decision and why it has become necessary to change this rule based on the use of semen of currently, dead, disappeared or gelded stallions.
Beyond the rationales of the decision, we have concerns in relation to some of the operational aspects of your decision. HBV request that HRA reconsider the implementation of the stallion limits for the 2020 breeding season and request that it be delayed to the 2021 breeding season.
With less than three months until the start of the breeding season commercial decisions by studs and breeders have already occurred, some of which will be significantly compromised by the swift implementation schedule proposed. A twelve month delay in its implementation will have no material impact and allows all parties the necessary time to adjust to the new paradigm.
HBV requests that HRA re-consider the inclusion of free returns in the 150 limit. Whilst this approach may have been used in the past, we are of the view that it will create an administrative nightmare that could be avoided by simply excluding the free returns. Many of these returns aren't known until very late in breeding season which places studs and breeders at a decided disadvantage. It is requested that HRA consult with the affected studs so that they gain some understanding of the impact of the rule as it has been drafted.
We note that the rules are yet to be drafted. We respectfully request the opportunity to be consulted on the draft so that we can hopefully avoid any unintended consequences prior to the amendment to the rules coming into place.
In relation to consultation on the matter, we were pleased that Andrew Kelly made himself available to attend an HBV Committee meeting in March. However, this was all arranged at the last minute with very little time for proper consideration given that the request for a response was only received by HBV a matter of a week or so before the meeting. At no stage was a draft proposal provided to us, nor advice that HRA was seriously considering significant changes on these matters until a decision was announced.
We are also disappointed that no consultation was held with State Breeders Associations, Studs or Breeders (that we are aware of) in the lead up to this decision so that important operational matters could be considered and discussed. That lack of consultation has led to the scramble of the last few days as the undesirable consequences of the operational impositions are understood.
It is submitted by HBV that HRA, when making decisions on important breeding matters, should initially consult with relevant bodies such as HBV, before releasing draft documents for detailed comment. Once this is complete, a decision can be made.
We look forward to HRA amending its decision and we remain available for consultation through this process.