Earlier today in Australia, Federal Court judge Alan Robertson ruled against the plaintiff, Bruce McHugh, and upheld the “live cover only” restriction for the breeding and registration of Thoroughbreds.
McHugh had filed suit against the Australian Stud Book, Australian Jockey Club, and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia more than three years ago, and the judge’s decision came almost a year after the conclusion of arguments on the substance of the suit.
The rationale behind McHugh’s suit was that the live cover provision was a restraint of trade that effectively prevented participation of many parties both in standing stallions and in breeding racehorses. In his 375-page decision, however, Robertson judged that McHugh had failed to make the case due to a lack of evidence.
A news story from news.com Australia stated that Robertson ruled that “McHugh had failed to show the court the AI rule was a restraint of trade, because he [Robertson] accepted it was a reasonable provision when it was established ‘many decades ago to prevent the attribution of incorrect paternity to a thoroughbred horse.’”
The ruling caused an outburst of commentary from the spokesmen of the organizations against whom McHugh had brought suit.
Michael Ford, the keeper of the Australian Stud Book, said that the Federal Court came to 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.”
In addition to denying McHugh’s complaint on grounds of lacking evidence, Robertson also gave weight to the gist of Ford’s comment above that the value and commercial strength of the Australian Thoroughbred would be weakened by a change in the live cover restriction.