Posts Tagged ‘Pacing sires’

I’ve blogged a few times now on the topic of the current dominance of Bettor’s Delight as a pacing sire (and probably in future as a broodmare sire).

He’s there on his own merits – but the combination of declining mare numbers and lack of siring competition means the situation is not healthy for our overall breeding industry if it carries on too long.

It’s not a “perfect storm” but it is a patch of tricky weather conditions that we need to negotiate our way through. Because I don’t believe that “market forces” will necessarily make the changes soon enough or in the best strategic long term interest of the industry.

I believe there are several solutions, and perhaps best in combination:

  • Look at some form of voluntary or compulsory industry limit of sires’ books.
  • Use pricing at the top end to manage demand, (done for Christian Cullen even though Ian Dobson got a lot of flack for it),  as well as at the lower end to encourage demand.
  • Reduce the number of sires on offer, so that good commercial sires can get a decent book of mares.
  • Ride out the trend, knowing we have had it before (e.g. with Sundon and perhaps Gee Whiz before him in the smaller trotting breeding pool), but take responsibility as individual breeders to play our part by being more adventurous in our choice of a sire.
  • Use some agreed limits on yearling sales entries overall from individual sires to avoid over-supply at our showcase market.

Many of these measures need the cooperation of the main industry players and certainly the studs – and some of them will already be making adjustments given the situation all of them, bar Woodlands, find themselves in this year – competing for a smaller number of mares with a larger range of sires in an environment where one sire is taking a significantly large portion of the pie. I’m talking about the significant New Zealand and Australian studs. This will have been a very difficult season for them.

We are spoilt for choice with sires. It seems almost criminal not to give some of these superbly performed and bred hunks of fertility the chance to have a go as a sire. But the reality is, we just don’t have the number of mares to give them all a real good chance. A new commercial sire will need at least 50 live foals to even start making his mark.

I’m not suggesting some compulsory limit on sire numbers, but a recognition that studs may well have been cutting their own throats by throwing so many new shuttle and frozen semen sires at breeders over the past 2-3 years.

What I do want to see is proven sires remaining well supported, and a smaller number of new sires offering a greater variety of bloodlines and types, rather than duplicating.

Sutter Hanover as a racehorse

Sutter Hanover warms up before the 2007 American Cup where he was placed 2nd.

And then I would love to see more breeders really thinking outside the “most in demand/best to the best” sire – being willing to try some of the new sires we do get. I was delighted, for example, when Alabar bought Sutter Hanover to New Zealand, but Kiwi breeders failed to get interested and he was moved to a niche in Australia. His sire line (Dragon Again) and maternal family (tracng back to The Old Maid) offered us some real choice and would have nicked well, I believe, with many of our mares. And on type, his conformation and reach was also something quite different. Some of the foals he  had here are quite clearly stamped by his looks and way of going. There’s a few of them already popping up promisingly, but maybe too late for Sutter Hanover to gain any traction again unless he fires brilliantly over in Australia. He would be a different sire I would have considered for my top mare.

The best short term solution is to have a voluntary limit on book numbers. I think 150 is reasonable. It is done overseas. It doesn’t have to be permanent.

And maybe less choice of sires (in numbers) but more choice (in types and bloodlines).

Regardless,  it needs to be looked at and actioned quickly, before we get into another breeding season. It will involve people looking outside their immediate commercial needs and thinking of the industry as a whole. Cooperating, even compromising. I won’t be holding my breath.

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