The Australian Racing Board is preparing to fight a legal challenge to overturn the current ban on artificial insemination (AI) within the Australian thoroughbred industry.
The controversial hearing began on Monday in Sydney’s Federal Court and is due to continue for six weeks.
The legal battle began when former chairman of the Sydney Turf Club, Bruce McHugh, applied for AI to become legal in 2009.
Currently, only horses that are conceived naturally are permitted to race in Australia and be registered with the Australian Stud Book.
Thoroughbred Breeders’ Australia CEO Peter McGauran believes the introduction of AI would be detrimental to Australia’s international standing in the breeding industry.
“We believe that to mix AI with the thoroughbred breed which is defined by natural coverings is to damage if not destroy our international market place in both racing and breeding,” Mr McGauran said.
“If Australia goes unilaterally and is the only country in the world to introduce AI we would be excluded from the major jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, France, the United States and much of Asia.
“Australia depends very heavily on more than 2500 exports of horses in the region of around $200 million each year. It would be insane for Australia to do it.”
Mr McGauren said it was not the principle of AI that was creating such fierce opposition.
“Breeders are not opposed to artificial insemination,” McGuaren said.
“It is simply a case of acting within the rules. We have our rules for our sport, for our own very good reasons developed over 150 years.
“Those who want artificial insemination should do what we did 150 years ago and start their own industry.
“There is nothing we could or would want to do to stop you.
“We argue that the proponents of artificial insemination should breed their own horses, establish their own stud book and hire Randwick or Flemington when we are finished.”