The standardbred breeding industry is about to get a million-plus dollar boost. A brand new incentive scheme has been agreed to by the Harness Racing New Zealand board which will reward breeders (the breeding entity listed on the HRNZ system) who breed mares this season.
The decision follows months of consultation between the Board, HRNZ senior management, a specially commissioned breeding think tank, the Standardbred Breeders Association and the country’s largest stud farms and many other interested parties. .
“We need to do something and do something big,” says HRNZ Managing Director Gary Woodham, “The current trend is showing a 5-10% drop in foal numbers every year and that is not sustainable. “
The new incentive scheme would come into effect this year.
“We’re looking to incentivize breeders,” says Woodham, “we need to stabilize and then increase the number of foals produced.”
“We want breeders to have their foals this breeding season and then start again, knowing they’ll get a $1,000 credit towards their next stallion service fee.”
So how does it work?
A stallion service fee credit will be given to the breeder for any mare that produces a microchipped foal this season (2022/23) and the breeder re-enters the same mare or another mare in her place and obtains a 42 day positive pregnancy test.
Credit can only be used for stallion service fees. It is not redeemable for cash.
The credit cannot exceed stud fees – if a stallion stands for $800, the breeding credit will reflect this.
Credits cannot be stacked and must be used during the breeding season they are earned.
Only one stallion service fee credit may be used per mare.
Here is an example:
A breeder has a foal mare and the resulting foal is microchipped. When this mare or another mare owned by the breeder tests positive for 42 days, the stud will charge the breeder the stallion service fee minus the $1,000 credit which will be sent to HRNZ for payment. HRNZ will pay the stud the difference of $1000.
There are also additional financial incentives for breeders to produce more foals than they have this year.
For example, if a breeder has two foals in the 2022/23 season, this will be referred to as their “base rate”. If during that season they breed an additional mare and produce another foal beyond their “base rate”, they will receive a $3,000 credit for the stallion service fee when the foal is microchipped and the mare is bred and achieves a positive 42 day pregnancy. that is, in addition to the other two mares who will each receive the $1,000 breeding credit this season.
Similarly, if a breeder has not produced any foals this year but sends a mare to stud this season, who in turn produces a microchipped live foal next year, he will receive a stud fee credit of $3,000 when the mare is bred and gets a 42-day positive test.
Going further, if a breeder with a “base rate” of three in 2022 has five more microchipped foals next year (i.e. 8 foals in total), they will be eligible for up to $15,000 in credits ($3,000 per foal for the 5 foals from the additional mares) when these mares are bred and get 42 days positive tests plus the $1,000 per foal for the 3 foals at the base rate.
Here is an example of a flowchart
Foal production is declining at a marked rate. A total of 1,367 foals were recorded in 2022, a 59% drop in 20 years and the lowest since the mid-1960s. If nothing is done, around a thousand foals will be born in 2026.
The number of racehorses this year is 2457. This number could drop to 2075 in the next five years.
Increasing the percentage of live foals is imperative. Currently, the percentage is around 70%, with about two thousand mares covered each year.
“If we could increase that to 80%, two hundred more foals would be born each year,” Woodham explains, “the total would go from 1400 to 1600 foals.”
“The challenges facing the sport are not unique to harness racing. It is also acutely felt by other codes. But we must act and act quickly.
Q. Does this breeding incentive apply to new breeders as well as existing breeders?
A. Yes, they will get the $3,000 service fee credit when the mare they breed this season produces a microchipped live foal next year, is bred again next year, and tests positive 42 days.
Q. What if there is more than one person in a Breeding Syndicate – do they share credit?
A: Yes, but it can only be redeemed on a stallion’s service fee.
Q. Do you have to use the same mare every year to get the credit?
A. No, the credit goes to the breeder and not the mare.
Q. What if you breed fewer horses this season than last year, are you eligible for the credit for the stallion service charge?
A. Yes, you will get a service charge credit per mare upon obtaining a positive test within 42 days.
Q. Will there be a stipulation that foals have to stay in New Zealand to race?
A. No, that is not our intention, people will make their own decisions about where and how they will race their horses. It is above all a question of increasing the number.
Q. How will HRNZ pay for this?
A. We have made allowances in our budget and some reserves are used to pay for this capital creation incentive. Breeding more foals is essential for our sport to remain financially viable. We cannot afford not to try to reverse the current trend.
Q. Will the program go beyond next year? Or is it unique?
A. At this stage, it is only for this season, but depending on its success, it could be reconsidered for next season.
More racing opportunities for everyone
HRNZ is also committed to maximizing the current horse population to ensure larger fields, more competitive races and ultimately higher turnover on races across the country, which is essential in enabling us to improve our gross betting revenue.
Fillies and mares play an important role here, and they are our future broodmares. As part of HRNZ’s strategic plan, the Board seeks to:
- Increase opportunities for fillies and mares to race each other. The target for fillies and mares races being 16% of all races by 2026/27.
- Schedule races on a regular basis for horses with stallion service fees under $6,000 for gait and $4,000 for trot
- Create pathways for horses at all levels and create opportunities for lower level horses to race competitively.
“Research overseas shows us that if we do it right, we could have up to a 55% increase in the number of horses actively running,” says Woodham, “that would have huge implications.”
Any questions, please email [email protected]
From Harness Racing New Zealand