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Optimism high for future of Victorian Breeding Industry

Prince Of Sussex ridden by Michael Dee wins the Ladbrokes Showdown at Caulfield Racecourse on April 27, 2019 in Caulfield, Australia. (Natasha Morello/Racing Photos)

Article from ANZ Bloodstock News

James O’Brien, the President of Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria (TBV), believes the state’s industry is on an upward spiral with increasing investment from stallion farms and a boost following the inaugural running of the $1 million The Showdown (1200m) last month. The renewed optimism of the Victorian industry comes ahead of the breeding season in which two new farms will set up bases and a number of new or relocated stallions will find a home in the state.

This year will see Yulong Investments stand foundation stallion Grunt (O’Reilly), while Aquis Farm will continue its growing footprint on the Australian industry by leasing the property owned by Seymour Bloodstock’s Darren Thomas, where Lean Mean Machine (Zoustar) and Siege Of Quebec (Fastnet Rock) will launch their stud careers.

US-owned Spendthrift Australia also recently announced that Grade 1-winning juvenile d’Oro Bolt (Medaglia d’Oro) would shuttle to the Victoria base this year.

Meanwhile, Foxwedge (Fastnet Rock) is relocating to Woodside Park Stud this year and Swettenham Stud will also welcome two new stallions on its roster, the previously Goldin Farms based Akeed Mofeed (Dubawi) and Coolmore Stud’s Sioux Nation (Scat Daddy).

Rosemont Stud has had its roster bolstered this year with Shamus Award (Snitzel) joining the farm after five years at Widden Stud, while the stud will also welcome back Coolmore Stud’s high-class sire Starspangledbanner (Choisir), who will return having stood the 2013, 2014 and 2015 breeding seasons at the Victorian operation.

“Victoria, in my view, has got competitive advantage over the rest of Australia,” Lauriston Thoroughbred Farm principal O’Brien told ANZ Bloodstock News yesterday.

 “One is the environment – and I know we have been impacted by the drought, but not the extent of other areas. “We have also got the state government chipping in to the breeders’ program and that is unique and you have got the breeders and stallion farms embracing it wholeheartedly. “I don’t think any other region has that level of support from industry stakeholders that we have. “These farms are recognising that. The Spendthrifts, the Yulongs, the Aquis’, etc, and that is why they are coming to the region, so I think it is just going to grow and grow. I think the future is bright for Victorian breeders.”

A pillar of the Victorian breeding industry has been the Super Vobis and Vobis Gold schemes, which are jointly funded by the state government, stud farms, mare owners, the racehorse owners and Racing Victoria.

One proposal floated has been the introduction of a “triple up bonus” of Super Vobis owners’ prize-money, mirroring that double up scheme in place with NSW’s BOBS program, for owners to spend on Vobis-eligible yearlings at public auction but O’Brien said it was some way off getting off the ground.

“Racing Victoria is committed to supporting the grassroots of racing and we think we are the grassroots of the industry,” he said. “Certainly, with the success of the Vobis Gold program and the Super Vobis upgrades have been extraordinarily successful in terms of field sizes and (betting) turnover, so we will always work with RV to enhance the program.”

The first edition of The Showdown, a race restricted to juveniles sired by Victorian VOBIS-eligible stallions, can also fuel further investment in the state’s industry, according to O’Brien.

The success of The Showdown, which was won in April by Prince Of Sussex who is by Swettenham Stud’s shuttler Toronado (High Chaparral), can also fuel increased market confidence, he said.

“I was on oncourse, so maybe you get swept up in it all, but certainly the excitement and exhilaration had a Blue Diamond-ish feel about it, particularly being a two-year-old race,” O’Brien said.

“The Gold Sale was on at Inglis and I understand everyone stopped and watched the race like they do when they get these big feature races, which is what we really wanted. “You never get a big build up into the inaugural one because people haven’t seen it before, but now people have seen it, the subsequent feedback has been outstanding. “Things are going to go from strength to strength, combined with the fact that the first crop will be running for a $500,000 mile race as well for three-year-olds next year.”

 There has been much debate about the state of the Victorian industry, with a concerted push from high-powered investors to have the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale moved from its March date amid breeder unrest but those plans have once again been put on indefinite hold. The latest resolution was made following a breeder meeting following this year’s Premier Sale.

 “These things are always up for discussion for ways we can improve and that was discussed, but the outcome was that we will not be changing the date of the Melbourne sale in the foreseeable future,” he said.

“If we don’t talk about these things, we’d be silly. We need to look at all options and engage with everybody. It needs the support of the vast majority, including Inglis, before we go forward.”

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