The long-standing ban on using artificial insemination (AI) for breeding Thoroughbred racehorses has been upheld by a federal court in Australia, after Bruce McHugh, a former chairman of the Sydney Turf Club, challenged the rule in 2011.

McHugh argued that the ban represents an illegal restraint of trade and a breach of the Trade Practices Act. In his December 19th ruling, however, Justice Alan Robertson explained the law requires that the plaintiff must show trade restraint was unreasonable when it was established for it to be illegal. Since the rule was imposed many decades ago, he said, it was reasonable at that time. Justice Robertson also dismissed the argument that the ban on AI breeding was a breach of the Trade Practices Act, stating that McHugh had not proved the AI rule had substantially lessened competition.

In response to the decision, Michael Ford, spokesperson and keeper of the Australian Stud Book said in a statement:

“This is the right decision and we are pleased that the effect of the court’s decision is to protect the integrity of the Stud Book and Thoroughbred breeding in Australia. Because of the global market for breeding and racing of Thoroughbreds, and the rules on artificial breeding in other jurisdictions, the introduction of artificial insemination into Australian Thoroughbred breeding would have had serious consequences for our industry.

“This is a comprehensive victory for the hundreds of thousands of Australians who derive a livelihood from the Thoroughbred racing industry, which will now remain a significant driver of the Australian economy.”

The Chairman of the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities, Louis Romanet, issued the following statement about the decision:

“The dismissal of the challenge is a good outcome and I welcome it. The definition of what is a Thoroughbred is set out clearly in the International Agreement on Breeding, Racing and Wagering and is adopted by all of the IFHA Members countries throughout the world. It requires a natural covering.”

Read more at The Paulick Report.