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The well-known surgeon and Thoroughbred breeder Rif’at Hussain is traveling on a mission trip through India and Pakistan. In addition to performing surgical operations and teaching their techniques for a month, Dr. Hussain has taken the opportunity to observe some of the breeding operations of India.

One quick expedition led Dr. Hussain to visit the breeding farms of Vikram Singh (Vikram Greenlands Stud) and Nirmal Singh. At the latter’s stud, he stands a “Mr. Greeley horse named Rebuttal, who finished second in the Middle Park Stakes in England. Rebuttal is inbred to Mr Prospector 3×4, his sire Raise a Native 4x5x6, his sire Native Dancer 5x5x6x7, and In Reality 5×4,” Dr. Hussain said.

Rebuttal was bred in Kentucky from the sixth crop of the important sire Mr. Greeley and is the second foal out of the Rubiano mare Reboot, also the dam of stakes winner Summer Cruise (by Vicar). Rebuttal sold for $110,000 as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton July sale of selected yearlings and then resold $400,000 as a selected 2-year-old in training at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton February sale at Calder. The horse’s best race was the Middle Park, although he also ran third in the Group 2 Mill Reef.

“One of the things that US breeders would have to envision is that Thoroughbred breeders do things somewhat differently here,” Hussain said. “For one thing, there are no stallion stations. Every farm has its own stallion or stallions which are used as private stallions. At Nirmal Singh’s stud, he has 100 mares, and all of them he is breeding to the same horse, Rebuttal.”

That is a game plan which puts all of Singh’s options in one spot, and the operation will prosper or not depending on the breeding quality of Rebuttal. This approach is much more like the one used in the States 50 years ago or more, where more farms had home stallions and largely patronized them. But, as Bull Hancock said, “A good stallion is half the farm, and a bad stallion is all the farm.”

Dr. Hussain also reports that racing and sales in India has a different flavor from America or Europe. He said, “Racing in India is a sort of closed affair. There are about five major racetracks, and racing is on turf only. There is a proposal to built a new world class racetrack, and they want to put in artificial turf – the sort of astroturf that is used in some other sports.”

That approach would give a new spin to synthetic surfaces, which have become increasingly popular in Europe and now in the US.

But the difference in the commercial market is probably larger than in other practices. Dr. Hussain said, “The prices of the horses, which are sold either as yearlings or 2-year-olds, are determined by the breeder-owners and the trainers haggling for a day or for five months or a year. Once a deal is made, 15 to 20% is paid in cash, and the rest over a period of five months with 1% interest per month on the balance. There are no auction sales and no 2-year-old sales with workouts.”

As Dr. Hussain has time from his extensive medical schedule, we hope to learn more about the Thoroughbred breeders of India, who are producing stock that is competitive and continually being upgraded with fresh blood.