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Bluebloods : Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale 2013
IN this issue we are delighted to present a number of feature articles devoted to the staying thoroughbred, its pedigree, its place in Australian racing and its future prospects. The idea germinated last year, although the seeds were sown some time ago, as it gradually became more and more apparent that increasing amounts of money were being spent in Europe and the USA to purchase staying prospects, not only to win the Melbourne Cup, but to plunder the other rich distance races on the Australian circuit. I asked several knowledgeable industry figures to try to estimate the amount going offshore in this manner and although no definitive figure seems to be readily available, the lowest estimate was around $30m annually. It may well be up to double that amount. It is certainly a very large number, and it is almost just as certainly an amount most of which will not be spent on the Australian and New Zealand yearling series. I was able to ascertain the amount of prizemoney won by foreign bred horses in Australia during the 2011/2012 season at more than $16m. Around $15m was won by New Zealand breds and the balance of the $462m distributed that year went to horses bred in Australia. Both the amount being spent and the amount being won have increased dramatically over the past five seasons, so it seemed appropriate to open the discussion on what can be done from a breeders' viewpoint to reverse, or arrest the trend. At the same time we saw the announcement from the Inglis organisation that they would conduct a "Blue Riband Session" for staying bred yearlings within the Melbourne Premier Sale in early March. It seemed appropriate to combine our Melbourne Premier Sale Preview with a feature section on staying bloodlines, these pages are the result. These are feature articles from our regular contributors Brian Russell, David Bay and international analyst Alan Porter. Between them they have a wealth of knowledge of thoroughbred pedigrees and the complexities of breeding stayers. We also welcome a distinguished new pedigree analyst to our team of contributors, the former leader of the Federal Labor Party, Mark Latham. Having moved on from the world of politics, he has now taken on a really serious challenge, that of breeding thoroughbreds. Mark Latham's small broodmare band is his newest passion, an enterprise he is pursuing with vigour and determination. His extensive research into thoroughbred pedigrees have seen him amass an impressive amount of knowledge in a relatively short space of time. Apart from his role as a political commentator both in print and on television, Mark Latham is a regular contributor on thoroughbreds to the respected Australian Financial Review. Late last year he delivered an outstanding address on thoroughbred breeding to the Carbine Club lunch before the Melbourne Cup, it drew many favourable comments from attendees I spoke to afterwards. It led me to approach him to present a series of articles for Bluebloods during the year, and the article in this issue is the first one out of the blocks. The whole question of how to breed stayers is a complicated one, involving not only breeders but race clubs and race programmers, matters which are at least touched on by both Alan Porter and Mark Latham. For my part I can best illustrate the point by comparing race programmes here and for instance in Japan. On my first visit to Fu Chu racecourse in Tokyo some years ago for the Japanese Derby won by Sunny Brian, where incidentally I was one of a crowd of 168,000, it struck me that the shortest race on the entire programme was over 1400m. This is in stark contrast to our race cards where just a few weeks ago for instance, on the Saturday metropolitan programme in Sydney and Melbourne combined, there were only two races run over further than 1500 metres. Bart Cummings, the trainer of an incredible 12 Melbourne Cup winners has been vocal in his views against the shortening of distances for feature races, the Brisbane Cup being a notable recent example. Another peculiar feature of Australian race programming seems to be that although there is rich prizemoney for staying races, with around $30m being allocated to stakes races from Listed to Gr.1 level for races of 2000 metres or further, which for want of a better term I would call the target races, there are very few, sometimes no races at all, run in the lead up to the target, which are held over the same distance as the target race itself. Finally, let's be clear about what this section is not. It is not a whinge! We are justifiably proud of our record in breeding great sprinters and milers, while the cross- Tasman trade in stayers has benefitted both Australia and New Zealand over a long period. Our success in breeding sprinters and milers at the expense of the staying thoroughbred has led to the current situation where many owners feel it is quicker and easier (and cheaper) to go north in search of stayers which, once acclimatised, are a cut above the local product. Yet the rapid development of this trend will undoubtedly force up the price of the choicest prospects, creating an opportunity for Australian breeders to present a better product. Competition brings out the best in most people, we Aussies like to think so of ourselves particularly, therefore it is time to put on our thinking caps and do our best. Breeding stayers is a long term proposition, one often better suited to the owner/breeder than the commercial vendor, but we have to start somewhere. We weren't exactly killed in the rush when asking farms with horses capable of siring stayers to participate in this feature, but we hope you will like the end result and that more farms will decide to promote their staying sires with us later in the season and in this section next year. Finally, our thanks to Inglis for supporting the feature, and to all our other advertisers; and finally, finally, best of luck to those vendors who nailed their colours firmly to the mast by offering yearlings in the Blue Riband Session. The 50 yearlings offered from around noon on Monday, March 4 at Oaklands Junction are by a great cross-section of truly outstanding sires, giving buyers the opportunity to pick up a fine staying prospect, one reckoned ideally suited to the purpose by both the vendor and Inglis, without having to pull out the passport. February 2013 34 MELBOURNE PREMIER YEARLING SALE BLUE RIBAND SESSION FOREWORD by Andrew Reichard SHOCKING (Street Cry-Maria di Castiglia by Danehill)
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