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NZ Breeders need assistance

Te Akau principal David Ellis has led the buyers' bench at Karaka for the past 10 years. - Picture / Dean Purcell
Te Akau principal David Ellis has led the buyers' bench at Karaka for the past 10 years.

Picture / Dean Purcell

Te Akau Racing's David Ellis said Government help is critical to arrest the falling numbers of New Zealand broodmares being bred from.

There was evidence at last week's Karaka sales series that some lower-end broodmares probably would not be bred from again this year.

"That cannot be allowed to continue and we urgently need government's help," said New Zealand's biggest and most successful thoroughbred buyer.

Ellis was the biggest Karaka buyer for the 10th consecutive year, but that level of concentration did not prevent him from being deep in discussion in the buying arena with Racing Minister Nathan Guy, while spending $4 million on 35 yearlings.

"Everyone appreciates how important this issue is to the racing industry and how important the racing and breeding industry is to New Zealand.

'There are so many fabulously talented people employed in the industry that are not skilled in other employment. It would not be easy to find those people other jobs and that is an issue that is important to this country."

Ellis said he had a very frank discussion with the Racing Minister.

"He is doing his best to stop the leakage of betting turnover to offshore agencies," something other countries have struggled to achieve.

"But he needs to go further than that. The Minister For Sport got something like $35 million for the America's Cup and the special Minister for the Rugby World Cup has managed to get $80 million from Government.

"I'm not saying those things are not worthy of that level of support, but a precedence has been set.

"In Australia, the New South Wales Government came up with A$180 million for the new Randwick grandstand and the Queensland Government has pledged A$10 million to the special Magic Millions meeting at the Gold Coast next year. The Victorian Government throws a lot of money at Melbourne's big carnivals.

"The NSW Government is reducing the percentage tax on betting [already lower than New Zealand's] and the minimum [Saturday] stake in Sydney is going to A$100,000.

"The point I'm making is it makes it impossible to compete with Australia when their government bodies are so supportive.

"We have a serious issue with the broodmare numbers. It's currently between 4000 and heading more towards 3000. Below 3000 it is difficult to sustain an industry. If the Government feels this country needs a viable breeding industry it must act and act quickly.

"Good work has already been done between government and Inland Revenue regarding bloodstock depreciation rates. We are around the size of Ireland and in Ireland the Government is a huge supporter of the breeding industry.

"On Karaka Million night at Ellerslie there were a lot of Australians attending and they go to restaurants, fly Air NZ here, stay in hotels and they shop. That means a lot of money to this country."

Ellis points out to replace horses like three recently departed stallions such as Zabeel, O'Reilly and Thorn Park would require trying out something like 40 stallion prospects.

"A lot of our breeders are sending mares to Australia which, in turn, makes Australia stronger and us weaker."

- Mike Dillon - NZ Herald


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