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Perhaps the Thoroughbred Breeders Australia has a death wish. Perhaps their lawyer, James Emmett, is failing to understand the issues being addressed in the lawsuit brought by Bruce McHugh against the prohibition of artificial insemination in Thoroughbred breeding that concluded yesterday in Australia.

In his closing remarks at the trial in Sydney federal court that can be read here, Emmett suggested that McHugh could set up his own stud book, conduct race meetings for stock conceived with AI, and offer higher purses than competing meets for horses conceived by natural cover.

I presume Emmett is not trying to be flippant. If so, perhaps he does need to find another profession.

Setting up a parallel racing and breeding program for AI stock would be absolutely disastrous. Yes, it’s fine to stand up in court and natter on about facile theories, but just imagine if Black Caviar were the product of an AI mating. How long would sloppy distinctions between “natural” and “artificial” last? How absurd would the old guard appear as this house of cards came tumbling round their ears?

The TBA and their legal advisers have not met this issue with the seriousness and depth of understanding that it merits.

Artificial insemination is serious business, and it requires careful and judicious examination. There are measures that the Jockey Clubs of the world could take to moderate the influence of AI, but from the tenor of the arguments being made in Australia, those Down Under seem to be punch drunk from the attacks on the natural cover requirements as a restraint of trade. The TBA’s counter-arguments make them appear to be reeling and waiting for the coming knockout punch.

If the decision comes in favor of AI, the change will be felt round the world.

And just what are the Jockey Clubs of the world planning to do if it comes?

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