Recently there were comments made from several trainers concerning breeding practices and the impacts on training and rehoming.
Mick Kent suggested that there was an oversupply of Thoroughbreds that stems from the breeding industry.
He referenced that the foal crop is too high and that a reduction needs to occur. For the last ten years, the foal crop, year-on-year except for one year in 2016/17, has been declining. However, the amount of race meetings across Australia has had very little change.
There is no doubt that the breeding industry needs to continue to breed with the intent for our horses to perform on the racetrack. It is crucial for our industry to remain sustainable.
Sustainability in this context ultimately means racetrack success. As Three Bridges’ Toby Liston puts it perfectly, “we live and die by the winning post.”
Mick Kent commented that breeders are breeding predominantly for the sale ring.
To be sustainable, breeders need to respond to market requirements. The market is predominantly made up of trainers, owners and syndicators.
We have become a racing nation that has solidified our identity on 2YO racing and early speed. This is fuelled by the demand at the sales.
Kent suggested that yearlings are over-fed carbohydrates to bulk them up in preparation for sale and lack natural conditioning.
Dr Peter Huntington, Director of Equine Nutrition comments, “In 2021 during their time in the paddock, young Thoroughbreds in Victoria are fed less carbohydrates than they were 30 years ago, and less than in most other countries.”
Breeders invest a considerable amount of time and money on agronomists and nutritionists developing plans which best suit their horses.
This is to ensure that the horse’s welfare is first and foremost and that each horse is sound, not just on sale day but for their performance on the track.
There is one undisputed thing, and that is the welfare of our horses.
There is not an iota of doubt, that the focus is on ensuring that welfare is the central pillar of everything we do. We need to ensure that we continue to improve upon welfare outcomes for our horses at every stage of the journey.
The future and the sustainability of both the breeding and racing industry depend on it.