John Coffey to head HBV

Newly elected Harness Breeders Victoria chairman John Coffey, one of the most respected figures in harness racing in this country, has viewed his concerns regarding issues confronting the breeding industry.

“I refer firstly to the 11 per cent drop in the number of mares bred in Australia by chilled or frozen semen last season compared to the year before,” Coffey said. “Victoria and NSW, where an estimated two-thirds of the broodmare herd is based, have borne the brunt of the reduction.”

The number of services in the country in the closing season was 4284, which represents a drop of 530 from the previous year.

“Secondly, the yearling sales for the last two years have been hard work with poor clearance rates, particularly this year,” he said. “Sure, there have been a few high-priced yearlings, but the middle market for yearlings has gone out the back door. Consequently, the majority of breeders who are consigning yearlings to the sales are losing money.”

Coffey said the National Ratings System was “discouraging people from buying yearlings to race as two and three-year-olds”, instead believing “the incentive with the system is to race older horses”.

Coffey said he thought it was the owner-breeders who were being impacted more than the commercial breeders.

“It is not impacting the breeders at the top end,” he said. “We need to find what issues are hindering people from breeding.”

Coffey called on the industry’s leaders to act with urgency.

“The board of Harness Breeders Victoria is committed to looking after the interests of the small breeders.”

Joining John Coffey as new committee members Harness Breeders Victoria Pat Driscoll, Lorraine Barnes and Dr Hugh Cathels. They join Clyde Little (secretary), Maurice Hanrahan (treasurer), Ian Stanley, Jess Tubbs and Sally McPherson

Story by Peter Wharton

John Coffey with WASBA President Jeanine Diederich