Australia: Federal Court dismisses artificial insemination case

by | 12.19.2012 | 7:45am

A Federal Court in Australia ruled Wednesday that artificial insemination could not be introduced into Thoroughbred breeding programs.

Citing “potential international consequences,” Federal Court Justice Alan Robertson dismissed a bid to make Australia the first to allow artificial insemination for Thoroughbreds. The court trial lasted four months, concluding Dec. 19, 2011.

Bruce McHugh, the former chairman of a Sydney racing club, sued thoroughbred authorities to legalize the use of artificial insemination, arguing the ban on the practice was an 'illegal trade restraint' as he sought to start a breeding business.

About 70 countries worldwide, including Australia, are signatories to racing agreements which state thoroughbreds can only be conceived using the standard “covering” method of breeding, not artificial insemination.

In response to Wednesday's decision, Michael Ford, spokesperson and keeper of the Australian Stud Book said in a statement:

“This is the right decision and we are pleased that the effect of the court's decision is to protect the integrity of the Stud Book and Thoroughbred breeding in Australia. Because of the global market for breeding and racing of Thoroughbreds, and the rules on artificial breeding in other jurisdictions, the introduction of artificial insemination into Australian Thoroughbred breeding would have had serious consequences for our industry.”

“This is a comprehensive victory for the hundreds of thousands of Australians who derive a livelihood from the Thoroughbred racing industry, which will now remain a significant driver of the Australian economy.”


The Chairman of the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities, Louis Romanet, issued the following statement about today's decision:

“The dismissal of the challenge is a good outcome and I welcome it. The definition of what is a thoroughbred is set out clearly in the International Agreement on Breeding, Racing and Wagering and is adopted by all of the IFHA Members countries throughout the world. It requires a natural covering.” Louis Romanet, IFHA Chairman.

“I was pleased to be able to support the Australian racing and breeding authorities by giving evidence, as did IFHA Vice Chairman and Hong Kong Jockey Club Chief Executive Officer, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.”  

“The Executive Council will now proceed to carefully consider the Federal Court's reasons for decision in this matter.”

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