For us, the heading said it all … “Has there ever been a better time to breed horses in Australia?”.
In a comprehensive article from Tara Madgwick, Breednet stressed that stallion service fees in 2016 were relatively low in comparison to overall industry wealth via sales revenue and prizemoney.
The feature also went on to point out that the top advertised service fees in Australia ($110,000), when compared to the elite in North America and Europe, were markedly low, adding that “rising prizemoney on the track and our perception as being a gateway into the Asian bloodstock/racing world have made Australia a very attractive option for international breeders looking to expand their business”.
Adrian Hancock, chairman of the Federation of Bloodstock Agents Australia, concurs entirely with the sentiment: “In the past, there has been oft-times a disparity between returns in the (sale) ring and what you had to pay to get into certain high end stallions.
“Fees have variously been set, based on a single year’s sales averages and rising to unrealistic levels. I well remember stallions standing at fees of $300,000 plus, so $110,000 is more than reasonable.
“From what I have seen so far of 2016 fees in Australia, they are based on a more solid footing. Competition is such that we can breed to champions and multiple Group One winners for less than $20,000.
“Stud masters do an amazing job to offer us the best selection of bloodlines from all over the world and there is real value to be had for the astute breeder.
“The most encouraging aspect this year, however, is the strength of sales across the board. Heading into the breeding season on the back of such a successful broodmare sale in Sydney, along with increases at yearling sales on the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide – across every state really – gives broodmare owners and investors plenty of motivation.”
Recent commercial fee announcements show just four stallions – Exceed And Excel, Medaglia D’oro, Redoute’s Choice and Snitzel – will stand at $110,000 in 2016, with Snitzel’s asking price (up 25%) being the only one of the quartet to increase. Fastnet Rock’s fee is listed as private but is estimated to be in and around that ballpark.
Indeed, 61 of the 130 stallions listed remain at the same service fee as 2015, while just 13 sires have had fee increases, the highest being a 150% lift for Written Tycoon (sire of 2016 Golden Slipper winner Capitalist) and Street Boss (up from $11,000 to $27,500).
Australia also welcomes 21 new stallions to its ranks – including Vancouver at $66,000.
Brett Howard, principal of Randwick Bloodstock Agency, is another who considers service fees – and the industry at large – to be right on the money: “Respected North American journalist, Bill Oppenheim, recently wrote in Thoroughbred Daily News that ‘the Australasian horse industry has been very successful in making itself the principal source of racehorses for the burgeoning racehorse market in Asia, and in attracting Asian investment into major stud farms in Australia’ and ‘(Australia’s) buoyant market for racehorse ownership, domestically, is principally because of good levels of prize money’.
“Those two factors have been primary in contributing to the healthy rise in the yearling and mare sale averages for several years now.
“What’s more, the clearance rates at most of these sales has been in the 85% to 90% range. I stand to be corrected, but I doubt whether you would consistently find clearance rates this high at North American or European sales.
“On top of this, service fees fortunately haven’t spiralled to the extreme levels of 2007 and 2008, thus providing Australian breeders a real opportunity to make a profit via the sales ring.”