Why should I breed a horse?

Rob Courtney

Post the 2024 standardbred weanling sale, that question resurfaces itself…..and that’s from one of the NZ’s most enthusiastic and positive harness supporters.

One man’s thoughts….

I would be hoping that the ‘powers that be’ did not see the latest weanling sale run by NZ Bloodstock as a success.

This writer sat in the audience of a thinly populated arena and watched 50% of the first 60 lots get passed in!

OK, some business was done later as the buyers sensed a bargain potential with 88% of the stock on offer being presented by our two major studs.

But when you are prepared to led stock go for nearly (& only) 40% of a stallion’s advertised fee, what message is that sending to the breeder?

Some other observations…..

There were more horses than buyers.

Some of our high-profile trainers were not present.

Was there nothing of interest for them or were their stable quotas already full?

Stock by certain stallions were clearly not wanted by the masses (but some are). Should these stallions seriously consider pulling out of ‘the race’ when the next breeding season comes around?

Or are the studs going to offer some stunning ‘specials’ to encourage the smaller breeder to put that mare in foal?

Some still believe that the stock on offer were chosen as they were not commercial enough to carry through to the yearling stage 8 months on..

Someone about now is going to remind me that Copy That came out of this sale for $7k.

Just saying that ‘some people’ truly believe that.

Is the breeding of horses in NZ becoming elitist?

The big studs and commercial breeders might be able to take ‘a hit’ financially but the hobbyist can only keep going if there is a return that enables them to keep doing exactly that.

That return can sometimes be just enough to get your investment back (to cover costs) without gaining any real profit.

Some of my friends think that because I breed horses, I must be well off (‘rich’ ?) but that is not an accurate association. I’m passionate about harness racing and generally reinvest any return back into my passion.

I could have had another passion and spent similar money for the simple return of great experiences along the way. Harness racing has not let me down in this regard.

The news of a possible return of a ‘Ready To Run’ sale is heartening.  Any extra means of selling our progeny at different stages of development is welcomed by this writer.

We are all too well aware that breeding numbers are dropping. This is not specific to NZ and all over the world (Europe included), one can read about the ‘decline in interest’ of harness racing.

These numbers are likely to drop again as those who have supported the industry for so long, choose to retire from the active role of agisting mares and handling young stock.

And the ‘instant gratification’ generation are not really interested in waiting 3 years for the horse to show its potential but would consider a 10% share in a racehorse that is potentially going to the races in 3 months time.

***A friendly reminder that I am a staunch supporter of harness racing in NZ.

But with my best friend (my wife) constantly in my ear……”quality darling, not quantity”, I eagerly await what promotions and incentives the stud farms are going to offer me so that I can continue participating within my passion.

To the studs I say you really have to give this serious thought.!!

NZB Standardbred reported this final clearance was 86% with the available weanlings here; https://www.nzbstandardbred.co.nz/sales/24nsws?filter=passedin&ordered=lot&sort=asc&sale_id=21&page_size=1000&start_pos=1