I'm probably about to remove myself from the Christmas card list of several Queensland stallion owners. Fortune favours the brave they say?
It's time the QTIS scheme becomes more about broodmares and less about stallions.
There I've said it. Wasn't that hard after all? And neither is what I'm proposing.
Putting it simply, if a mare resides in Queensland for the majority of the year, the resultant foal (regardless of where the sire stands) should be eligible for QTIS. Eligibility should no longer have anything to do with where the stallion stands.
This is the same eligibility criteria used now in the booming Victorian breeding industry under the prosperous VOBIS scheme.
Victorian breeders have the advantage of being able to send their mares to any stallion and qualify the resultant foal for VOBIS. This is reliant on the mare predominantly residing in Victoria, regardless of where the covering sire stands.
It’s fair to say the Victorian Breeding industry was in the doldrums 20 years ago. You might even argue back then that Queensland breeding was at least on a similar footing. In the past 10 years Victoria has established a strong breeding industry. Granted this is off the back of a strong racing industry, but it is also because of innovative and brave changes to VOBIS.
The Victorian breeding industry now boasts significant foreign and interstate investment. Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Stud is now firmly established in the state both in breeding and racing. In recent years major Chinese investment has come through Sun International’s acquisition of Eliza Park. Just last year American breeding giant Spendthrift Farm acquired Yallambee Stud.
But perhaps the strongest part of the breeding industry in Victoria has been the strengthening of the quality broodmare farms which are now dotted all over Victoria. These farms specialise in acquiring quality broodmares and produce high grade weanlings and yearlings for re-sale. These farms send their mares out to the most suitable stallions regardless of where they are located. They also invest in stallions by taking shares in quality stallions in both Victoria and New South Wales.
Broodmare farms provide significant employment and investment in the state and local regions. They provide sound foundation. It’s this foundation we should re-focus on in Queensland. It’s the foundation the Queensland State Government should become more aware of and invest in.
Queensland has so much to offer for broodmare owners and sales consignors. Our climate should be very attractive to grow out foals as they head toward yearling sales time. The Queensland winter and spring periods provide an amazing base for horse development. With the mining industry in direct conflict with breeder in the Hunter Valley, Queensland should be courting breeders to move their business to Queensland.
Off the back of a great climate and good country, breeders in Queensland have access to one of the most vibrant sales rings in the world – Magic Millions on the Gold Coast. Having this amazing resource on the doorstep of our breeding heartlands in Toowoomba and the Scenic Rim should make Queensland a logical choice for breeders. The cost and risk of transporting horses to sale are both significantly reduced.
What a Queensland breeding scheme should focus on is stimulating investment by broodmare owners in the state. At the moment the scheme is designed to discourage broodmare owners with quality mares. To participate in QTIS they are forced to use a Queensland stallion every second year if they want to qualify all foals for QTIS. If you have high class mare under the current scheme, this is virtually impossible.
For yearling buyers, the benefit of a change like this would mean a higher number of quality QTIS eligible yearlings would be available in the sales ring. At the moment there are a significant number of Queensland bred yearlings each year that are not eligible for QTIS. This is because their breeders are unable to qualify them for the scheme due to the commercial constraints of the current QTIS scheme I have outlined above.
Yearling buyers would also gain the advantage of a larger number of Queensland bred yearlings with valuable dual scheme qualification. Queensland breeders who choose to use a NSW based stallion would make the resultant Queensland bred yearling eligible for both BOBS and QTIS.
An increase in dual scheme qualified yearlings would certainly bolster the annual QTIS yearling sale held at Magic Millions each March. It’s fair to say under the current scheme, the buying bench for this sale can be very thin and consists largely of Queensland buyers. This poses a problem for Queensland breeders when the local racing industry experiences a downturn. With a larger proportion of QTIS/BOBS yearlings in this catalogue, I’m certain a larger number of buyers from NSW and further afield would attend and help grow this sale to a more robust outlet for breeders.
I expect that many Queensland stallion owners will strongly oppose a change of this nature. They shouldn’t. The good operators should embrace it as they have nothing to fear. I have no doubt a change like this will ultimately strengthen the breeding industry in Queensland. This will enable breeders to go out and invest in better quality stallions to stand in Queensland. Clearly this isn’t happening now, and in reality, hasn’t happened now for well over a decade.
Whilst the current QTIS scheme continues to virtually blackmail breeders to use Queensland stallions, the industry will continue to decline in this state.
We desperately need change now and I urge all Queensland breeders, owners and trainers to get behind this very simple change.