Big Slide in mares being served and foal numbers.

In 2008 Andrew Kelly was appointed the CEO of Harness Racing Australia. In the following Breeding season of 2009 there were 8,241 Stallion Services recorded which resulted in 5,332 Live Foals the following season.

In a recent article emanating from the Offices of Harness Racing Australia and titled  “ Key Breeding Figures Held – Up Well for Season 2022/23. “ it was stated that there were 4,552 Stallion Services recorded for the recently concluded 2022 Breeding season.

The same HRA website shows totals of Breeding Services for the five seasons prior to 2022 of :
2021/22 season: 5,106 services.
2020/21 season: 5,288 services
2019/20 season: 4,688 services
2018/19 season: 4,963 services
2017/18  season: 5,432  services

Holding up can hardly be the correct heading when comparing 4,552 with figures of over 5,000.

Mr Kelly then waffled on about a Covid spike when comparing 2020 figures with those of 2019 , using parameters of Betting turnover or other economic trends.

When you were sitting comfortably in your Office in Flemington Mr Kell, maybe you had no idea of the consequences of one of Australia’s most devastating droughts in Eastern Australia in 2019 ….   As well as horrific bush fires in regional NSW during the Spring of 2019.

It could be strongly suggested that these environmental factors had more to do with the low number of Services in the 2019 season than any other factor , so in effect there was probably no spike in 2020  –  just passionate Breeders returning to what they love.

And just as quickly as they returned, HRA introduced a stallion levy on shuttle stallions hitting breeders in the pocket to fund a $2 million Slot Race for 10 people.

When the overwhelming majority of breeders and participants were against the use of funnelling breeders money into such a cause, the powers that be utilized their favourite mouthpieces to instil confidence when there was none.

Breeders have simply voted with their feet amid a myriad of financial restraints in the global economy. Rather than making things easier for them and utilizing the levy to specifically target the very lifeline of the sport, Andrew Kelly chose to do the opposite.

And so much for the slot race injecting purpose into the national yearling sales!
Kelly was quoted as saying the following when rejoicing the ‘diversity’ of the slot holders.

“There is quite a large number of breeders, some who’s involvement is more at the yearling sales end, so it’s interesting they will turn their attention to Australian (yearling) sales now in order to try and own a horse for their slot.”

How did the 10 slot holders do propping up the sales?

How did the 10 slot holders do propping up the sales?
It is widely recognized that the 3 main Sales in Queensland , NSW and Victoria in 2023 were below standards achieved in 2022.  Poor Clearance rates and poor prices for Fillies in particular will leave Breeders pondering their involvement in the Harness Racing Industry.

The Victorian Sale held on the first weekend of April resulted in some terrible statistics for both Trotting and Pacing bred fillies.  There were a total of 144 Fillies offered for Sale [ 92 Pacing bred and 52 Trotting bred ] with 60 being passed in and a further 52 who mostly sold at a loss to their Breeders .  So 77% of the Fillies presented at that Melbourne Sale have left their Breeders with negative thoughts of continuing to invest in the Industry.

Consequently there should be alarm bells ringing loudly in the ears of Administrators of Harness Racing throughout Australia and especially so in the ears of Mr Kelly and Dale Monteith , the Chairman of Harness Racing Victoria and his Board.

Recently compiled figures regarding the 2022 Breeding season show that Victoria and Tasmania had some alarming decreases in mares bred in 2022 against the corresponding figures for the 2021 season –  a 23% decrease in Victoria and 17% drop in Tasmania.

With allegations of corruption and team driving and the unhealthy domination of one stable in the ‘Apple Isle’, anything other than a decrease in Breeding numbers in Tasmania would have been a miracle.

Victoria on the other hand has always been regarded as the Number One State for Breeding in Australia and such a drastic reduction in the number of mares bred is a matter for huge concern. So Matthew Isaacs , the newly appointed CEO of Harness Racing Victoria and Dale Monteith and your Board members you had better reach for the “ Worry Beads “ and start listening to the Breeders of Victoria.

The States of Queensland and WA showed some small increases over the 2021 Breeding season [4% and 8% respectively] whilst SA and NSW remained on similar numbers to their previous season.

However it is possible that Breeding numbers in NSW may have declined as well , had not HRNSW introduced some very attractive Bonuses that will reward Breeders in that State up to $1,750 when a Live Foal is Registered later this year.

Mr Monteith , you and your fellow Board members are in the driving seat of a Victorian Breeding Industry that for decades has been the leaders in our Sport.  Breeders and Owners supply the product that employs the Trainers and Drivers and the Punters to wager on.  So it is your responsibility to take the right fork in the road ahead to lead Victoria out of decline.

Mr Kelly , under your leadership of Harness Racing in Australia we have seen annual Live Foal crops decrease from 5,332 to just 2,917 in this current season  –  only the second time since records have been  kept that Australia has dipped below 3,000 foals in a season.

Harnesslink Media