Garry’s Corner – 21 June, 2019

Garry Chittick

Well, my readership has increased to five and a listener. A female listener no less. As such my comments will have to be more circumspect avoiding any salacious inferences as my listener is subjected to my Corner in bed on Saturday mornings. Mind you the mating habits of the Thoroughbred in captivity you would think offer little to think about. Mind you in this “ Me Too” world of today the “Me Too ‘s “ would be mortified at the prospect of being mated ten days after birth, most of the “Me Too ‘s” would not yet have escaped the maternity ward, still, you never know. Mind you not all mares are mated at ten days, no it depends on their physical well being which means the younger are more likely to be receptive to starting the process again.

Funny thing nature. Then can you imagine the dismay should any of the “Me Too ‘s“ if they poke their head into the serving barn. Part of the process is to present to the mare a teaser, now I know the females of our species do the teasing, a process that usually includes being fed, wined, shod, and can take months. The barn teaser is like the noisy short man who buys far too many drinks in the bar only for the female to leave with someone taller, I’d hate to calculate how much the bar teaser spends but if enough, the evidence of wellbeing will eventually overcome any shortcomings.  The mare, unfortunately, does not have the same options, in fact, she has no options. For health and safety, not hers, she will on arrival at the barn be fitted with kicking boots, a nose twitch, and surrounded by at least four strong males to make sure she behaves then support her at point of consummation. In this instance the short male teaser approaches his prey with a lot more surety than the bar teaser, after all, if you will excuse the pun, the boots are on the other feet. When confident all is ready the sire, not necessarily her choice, but worth upwards of twenty million will start the process all over again.

On the law of averages our pride and joy may produce say eight live foals. Her devoted owner if a lady will, according to figures just published produce 1.7 live offspring. How they manage to produce the .7 result has me beat but like you, I have seen great numbers of them, they are the bar teasers I was referring to earlier. These numbers are important, at 1.7 we will not produce enough future owners. The country will like Japan slowly depopulate, immigration is the answer apparently. Now if you listened to or are aware of the recent debate on the proposed racing bill you will now know apart from Winston, how little interest or empathy our politicians have in our sport. The point being we will now have the added burden of making sure firstly, our Minister of Immigration is one of us. One of the frog coloured and heaven help us. First question on the Application Form should be are you a gambler, tick one. If fortunate enough to share in NZ’s wealth will you share it in the Auction Ring in January tick two. On the failure of your $200k filly will you assure us to mate and maintain her in NZ. Tick three. If involved in an unfortunate property division as a result of a failed relationship will you guarantee to provide you estranged partner with a breeding prospect of equal value. You’re in!

Back to the breeding mares, of the five of you, a 250% increase mind you, only a couple will remember we used to breed under 3500 foals and race on Wednesday and Saturday only. More importantly taxation peaked at 66% at a low threshold, it settled back at 60% around the 1960s. This impost fertilised the thought process as to how this burden could be neutralised, I won’t dwell on the explosion of breeding partnerships it is a subject well scrutinised over the years, the resulting increase in foal crops peaking at 6500 foals, this created the need for more race days to cope.

To gain a maiden start your horse had to qualify at the trials. Even then we had 10 race cards with division maiden races. The current debate on the number of venues will not require strong-arm tactics, evolution will do the job for us. This is not an ideal result, back in the sixties racing dominated wagering, there were no poker machines, lotto, casinos and in my view the elephant in the room sports betting to compete with. I am not by nature a pessimist, you can’t be if you breed horses for a living but when Mary and I first ventured into this endeavor there was a spread of participants, none of whom actually depended on the horse. There were strong relationships with other breeders based on the horse. More importantly the rural community was more aligned with dry stock farming requiring horses as part of their farm management, hence an affinity with the horse, so racing a Thoroughbred was a significant part of life. Won’t happen again, all of those beautiful farms are covered in cow manure. The steeper land where station hacks played such a role are growing pine trees. But as always in life, we have to find a way.

Our world has changed but it doesn’t owe us a living. When RITA hits its straps let’s hope it has a plan not wish list, if they can do it in Aus, a nation founded on rehabilitating persons of dubious skills then we can. Perhaps that’s where immigration focus should be, anywhere there is a supply of gambling, fornicating, (for reproduction only) petty gangsters is just the kick start NZ s needs. The five of you can reply with a choice of where we should start our recruitment. The listener can ponder how lucky she is she is not a Broodmare. Cheers G

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