Racing Queensland will step in to assist Queensland’s standardbred breeding industry, which is one of many across the state feeling the crippling effects of drought.
Following feedback from breeders via an industry survey, Racing Queensland found the rising cost of feed and agistment due to drought would likely accelerate a decline in breeding by up to 30%.
To shore up breeding numbers Racing Queensland will introduce an in-foal rebate of $500 payable to the breeder of any mare – inseminated between 1 August 2018 and 31 January 2019 – that receives a positive 42-day pregnancy test.
The fee will be made available to the breeder if the mare in-foal meets QBRED eligibility criteria (i.e., the mare is inseminated and agisted in Queensland). Payment of the Rebate will be capped at 4 mares per breeder.
Racing Queensland COO Adam Wallish said the organisation recognised the importance of the breeding industry to the ongoing viability of harness racing in Queensland.
“Without urgent action the harness industry will face significant challenges with reduced foal crops and field sizes in future years,” Mr Wallish said.
The rebate is expected to cost between $90,000 to $110,000 dependent on the level of breeder uptake.
Mr Wallish said it was a sound investment to provide some short-term security to the breeding industry and harness racing in Queensland.
“A vibrant breeding industry is crucial to the ongoing viability of harness racing in Queensland, with QBRED horses making up 30% of the active racing population,” he said.
“One-third of respondents to this recent survey indicated they would increase their breeding activity this season if they were provided short-term assistance to mitigate the increased costs in breeding as a result of the drought.”
The survey also revealed 50% of breeders cited a low return on investment by way of sales and prize money as part of the reason for a decline in breeding in recent years.
Mr Wallish said: “Racing Queensland will continue to work with the government and our commercial partners for a plan to improve the viability of our industry, particularly in comparison to NSW and Victorian industries that continue to announce significant prize money increases.”