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"Breeders' Relative Costs are Too High"

"The domestic breeding industry has lost its way when it should be a very attractive business to invest in particularly as New Zealand has the best tax effective regime in the world," according to Chris Luoni, the recently elected Northern Region representative to the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Association Council.

"We have had numerous studies about the falling foal crop and its consequences but no substantial action plan to increase the foal crop. The industry has to develop better market opportunities for people to breed thoroughbreds and this must involve New Zealand Bloodstock and the buyers of our horses.

As a recently retired partner in Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Chris is well qualified to comment on such matters. He is also a company director operating several small businesses and is the owner of a small breeding farm Woodbine Farm based at Matangi near Hamilton. He has time and energy to devote to the Council and is looking forward to being involved with the NZTBA Council.

"Stallion service fees are far too high relative to the New Zealand market place for their progeny and this is being addressed with many breeders not breeding their mares. There is a limited market place for fillies and I would like to see stallion owners following the Bahare – Rich Hill Stud model offering a 50% reduced service fee if a filly is born.

"The input costs for breeders have increased significantly with vet fees and freight costs being the major contributors but there is some competition in this area for the forthcoming season which is pleasing.

"Some breeders have decided not to breed but to pin hook weanlings from Australia instead and re-present them at the New Zealand sales and this is now happening in a big way. As well there are a number who are choosing to leave their mares empty this year.

"Such mares still have significant carrying costs and one year left empty is a year lost. I would encourage such breeders to introduce themselves to stud masters and discuss an opportunity for them to breed their mares. I would also encourage stud masters to undertake market research on breeders in their area and then approach them about breeding their mares. I am sure that both parties can come to a suitable business arrangement.

"Right now I think that the New Zealand breeding industry is in a similar state to the New Zealand dairy industry with significantly falling financial returns. It is time for every breeder to review their business in a non-emotional basis and we should seek advice from others. I am certainly doing this at present.

"Every breeder has to regularly assess the business viability of their breeding stock when deciding to mate mares. Each mare should have a good pedigree and be capable of having progeny at the top end of the Karaka Festival yearling sale before you consider breeding such mares for sale purposes. However if a breeder is breeding to race then there are different considerations," he concluded.Chris himself has substantial interests in the industry he has ownership shares in 12 broodmares and several stallions including Chianti, Kashani, Dance Floor and Danger Looms.

Although his father bred and raced horses from the family farm in Te Hoe in the Waikato, Chris's interest in the industry was probably nurtured while he was at boarding school in Wellington, this interest grew when in the early 1970's his office was next to the offices of Best Bets where Steve Brem, Stu Laing and Des Coppins were on the staff.

"In 1975 I went to Montreal to work, and stayed there until 1981. While I was overseas my father raced and bred Happy Union who won four Group One races, and competed in the Melbourne Cup. This really along with attending Canadian Melbourne Cup parties and subscribing to the weekly issues of the US Bloodhorse magazine really cemented my interest in racing.

"I purchased my first mare in 1988 Drallam(Desperate Dee-Pride of Priory) and my first foal was a Roman Empire colt later named Armageddon who was Group III placed and a listed stakeswinner as a two-year-old. The next mare I purchased was an American bred and United Kingdom performed mare Double Sandbags(Nodouble-Honey Sand) who was my foundation broodmare. Her progeny continue to win with her last foal Roualyn a recent winner and her grandson Geeorb winning recently in Melbourne.

"In 1993 I purchased a small farming property in Te Kowhai and in the same year I also purchased a second mare called Lillibet with my good friend the late David Johns. We bred some good horses form Double Sandbags and Lillibet including the stakes winners Oliverdance (ex Lillibet) and Ma Danseuse (ex Double sandbags) and my interest in breeding grew from that time," he said.

Chris is also the breeder of the current promising gallopers; Tuscan Spirit (Chianti - Fortelo), Lauaki (E Dubai-Our Sally), and Lovedale (San Luis-Chiming In). He is a member of the Waikato Branch of the Association but has not previously been involved with that branch at administration level. However he was involved with the NZTBA for a brief period during the 1980's as a member of the Taxation Committee. Chris has been involved over the years in various governance and professional roles in New Zealand and Australia for organisations such as the Australian Racing Board, Waikato Racing Club, Ra Ora Stud, and the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame. All of which should augur well for his new role as a NZTBA councillor.

"While I am on the Council I would like to see the NZTBA to be a participant in all sections of the New Zealand racing industry. This is partially achieved through representation on the NZTR Board, but who knows what will become of that after September. I would like to see a close and respected association established with our sister Australian body – The Australian Bloodhorse Breeders as we have much to learn from each other. I also believe we need a strong regional branch network with all branches working together effectively, and these are some of the issues I am looking forward to working on at Council level," he enthused.

- Michelle Saba


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