de Kabat Racing Research

Specialist in statistical research for the Thoroughbred industry



2019 Melbourne Cup Tips

I wasn’t going to do Melbourne Cup tips this year, because it’s been over a year since I did any work for Aushorse Marketing. When I did consulting work for them, one of the tasks I had was to track Australian bred horses racing overseas. The consequence was that I had a decent overview of international form – something that is really helpful when analysing the Cup field.

Without that background knowledge, I was planning to step away from the Cup. With all the imports, it’s really hard to get a handle each horse. However, I couldn’t help myself, and if you follow me on facebook, you will have seen a very brief overview of the field. I’ve copied it here and put the winner in bold.

Cross Counter – last year’s winner in form. weight might be an issue

Mer de Glace – in form stayer. looks the best chance

Master of Reality – another international that punters haven’t seen in ok form. meh

Mirage Dancer – consistent type

Southern France – consistent and beat Downdraft and Master of Reality 2 starts ago

Hunting Horn – solid preparation for international and last start winner in Aus. chance.

Latrobe – another international that punters haven’t seen in ok form. meh

Mustajeer – not the worst

Rostropovich – out of form

Twilight Payment – not quite in this class but goes ok.

Finche – solid local preparation. chance

Prince of Arran – last start winner and proven at the trip. good chance

Raymond Tusk – another international that punters haven’t seen in ok form. meh

Downdraft – last start winner who is consistent. solid chance

Magic Wand – consistent but might not stay the 2 miles

Neufbosc – out of form

Sound – can stay the 2 miles but out of form at the moment

Surprise Baby – last start winner whose sire won this race, in consistent form. excellent light weight chance

Constantinople – consistent lately without winning, probably won’t stay the 2 miles

Il Paradiso – another international that punters haven’t seen in ok form. meh

Steel Prince – would be a surprise on current form

The Chosen One – maybe at this weight but not as classy as some of the others

Vow and Declare – excellent light weight chance. solid second behind Mer De Glace last start and carries a lot less weight this time. can stay, good chance

Youngster – talent with light weight, but has only been knocking around lately. would have to improve a lot.



Bonecrusher Statue

Bonecrusher – the horse who raced into equine immortality – was immortalised in bronze when a sculpture was unveiled at Ellerslie Racecourse in New Zealand in March 2018. The first New Zealand trained racehorse to win $1million in prizemoney, Bonecrusher is best remembered for his victory in the 1986 WS Cox Plate over fellow kiwi Waverley Star.

bonecrusher statue

Published in Bluebloods magazine.

Bill Waterhouse Statue

When the word ‘leviathan’ is frequently tagged with someone, it is appropriate that the sculpture of them is also oversized. The recently unveiled statue of Bill Waterhouse is 125% life sized – a leviathan statue for a leviathan bookmaker.

Bill Waterhouse was born in 1922, and his story really begins at age sixteen when he started work as a bookie’s clerk for his father. For several years, Bill balanced working as a clerk with his education, and he completed a degree in Arts-Law at Sydney University in 1948.

As son Rob says, “He could have had an interesting life as a barrister but fate decreed he was destined to become the world-famous bookmaker.”

waterhouse statue

Published in Bluebloods magazine.

2013: Artificial Insemination Case

This article was first published by Breeding & Racing magazine in 2013.


Summary of AI court case judgment

January 2013

Renée Geelen


Everyone in the Australian racing industry will have heard of the widely publicised Artificial Insemination (AI) court case, and pretty much everyone has an opinion on whether the introduction of AI would be a great or terrible thing for themselves.  Most people probably have an opinion on the wider effects on the Australian industry too.  The case allowed all those opinions to be aired and tested in court and ultimately, for the discussion on AI to be resolved in an Australian context.

B&R’s editor-at-large Renee Geelen worked as a consultant to the Australian Stud Book and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia during the proceedings, and thus has a good knowledge of the case between ex-bookmaker and retired Sydney Turf Club chairman Bruce McHugh and various racing authorities.  Those authorities were the Australian Jockey Club and Victoria Racing Club (as joint proprietors of the Australian Stud Book), the Australian Racing Board and Racing Information Services Australia (RISA).

The scene was set in May 2009 when Bruce McHugh wrote to the Australian Stud Book requesting they set up a parallel register for AI bred racehorses.  When this was refused due to the international ban on AI in Thoroughbreds, the Australian Stud Book received a Statement of Claim in November 2009.  Over the next year, there was a period of discovery where both sides had access to documentation and put together their arguments.  In May 2010, RISA was excused from participation by agreement from both parties during mediation with all parties.  Thoroughbred Breeders Australia was successful in their submission to join the case in July 2010 and became the fifth respondent. In November 2010 the official notification of action against was received and in February 2011, the AJC merged with the Sydney Turf Club to form the Australian Turf Club which so the ATC was added to the case as a respondent (as new part-owner of the Australian Stud Book).   The case was heard in September 2011 over a six week period with final summations heard on 19 December 2011.  A year to the day later, the judgment was handed down on 19 December 2012 in favour of the respondents.

There were 14 lay witnesses for McHugh’s team, plus a veterinary and an economist, while the respondents team was represented by 11 lay witnesses, and they also had a vet and an economist to discuss the wider issues.

McHugh challenged the ban on AI in Thoroughbreds by arguing that the exclusion of AI bred horses from the Australian Stud Book, and subsequently from the register permitting thoroughbreds to race, was contrary to section 45 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and further that the ban is a restraint of trade under common law.  While the court did not make any judgment on the use of AI, the majority of the hearing was filled with the arguments on the merits and downsides of AI, both as a technology and in terms of the wider impact of a rule change on the current industry.

The case was presided over by the Honourable Justice Robertson and his 1611 paragraph judgment started with an outline of the history of the discussion and ban on AI in the international world of racing over 100 paragraphs starting with the first evidence of a ban in 1949 in Australia as a way of ensuring the correct pedigrees in an era before bloodtyping or DNA.  At this point, each country was responsible for their own Stud Book rules.  In 1976 the International Stud Book Committee was established and the ban on AI was formalised internationally.  However, all parties decided to keep the subject under review, particularly in relation to the new technology of bloodtyping.  The wording of Article 12 of the Federation Agreement was finally agreed in 1982 and this defines the Thoroughbred as being naturally conceived and born for all countries that are signatories to the International Agreement.

The evidence by witnesses for both sides takes up a large portion of the judgment (1071 paragraphs) but is best summed up in Judge Robertson’s findings (70 paragraphs).  Among the outline of the size of the Australian industry are some interesting facts:

– Australia has more racecourses than any other single country (367);

– There were 360 tracks and 2,694 race meetings with 19,281 flat races. The prize money was $427,245,771 and total returns to owners was $481,322,903.

– Australia has the second or third largest number of races behind the USA and Japan;

– Australia offers the third largest amount of prize money in the world ($421,095,890);

– Australia has the second highest foal crop (16,112 in 2009) behind USA (31,224) in the world;

– Of the more than 450 registered studs in Australia, 324 stand only one stallion.  The largest stud (Darley) stood 18 stallions in 2009.  Stallion fees ranged from $400 to $176,000.

– The average price for the 4,831 yearlings sold at auction in 2009 was $53,009 with the median $21,000.

One of the key arguments for McHugh was that AI would reduce costs for broodmare owners.  Judge Robertson found that there was no evidence to suggest that both agistment and transport costs would definitely be cheaper under AI, but that it was reasonable to expect that the broodmare owner would have more options and some of these options may be cheaper.  However, it was found that veterinary costs would be similar for both natural cover and the use of fresh semen, slightly higher for the use of chilled semen and much higher for the use of frozen semen.  In addition, it was found that the use of fresh semen had similar fertility rates to natural service (at 70-75%), chilled semen had lower fertility rates at 60-70% and frozen semen was much lower at around 50%.  This means that the opportunity cost of having a mare not in foal each season also needed to be considered.

McHugh’s team submitted that stallion service fees would be reduced under AI, but Judge Robertson could not find a basis on which to conclude if this was probable or not, finding that the decision would be something for each individual stallion owner to consider into order to maximise their own profit (AI or not).  He did find that the use of AI increases the choices for broodmare owners, but that this does not automatically translate into an increase in competition in the marketplace.  In particular, Judge Robertson found that there would not be a reduction in market power of the studs if AI were permitted.  He found that the larger studs compete between themselves, that fees are not set by reference to the cost of production but rather to maintain the profitability for the stallion owner.  Just having more services available from smaller studs under AI does not establish any reduction in market power by the larger studs.  In particular, the whole idea of Thoroughbred breeding is quality not quantity, in which case market share would remain with the quality stallions.  Further, McHugh’s team stated that the major studs benefit from the current status as they can bundle together stallion services with broodmare services, including agistment.  However, Judge Robertson found that there was sufficient competitive pressure from broodmare and walk-on properties in the current environment that this argument was not valid. Adding to this conclusion, Judge Robertson stated that there is competition between the major studs, and this is further shown by the fluctuation in the group of big studs with the names and owners of the largest studs changing over time, even in a reasonably short seven year period.

One of the major points of discussion during the case was the impact of a change in the AI rules in Australia on the international aspects of the industry.  Judge Robertson found that while racing and breeding is international, only a relatively few Thoroughbreds directly participate internationally with 1,833 exported horses and 603 imported horses in 2009. (As horses from several different crops as exported each year, this translates into an average of 6% of the foal crop being exported valued annually at approximately $180million per annum).

The McHugh team argued that if AI ban was found to be contrary to section 45 and thus was allowed for use in Australia, the rest of the world would soon follow and thus the international impact would be small.  The respondents argued that it was not this simple, that the ISBC would not recognise the Australian Stud Book as a signatory if we repealed Article 12 and our status on the global stage would be severely reduced.  Judge Robertson found that McHugh’s team did not provide strong enough evidence to prove that other jurisdictions would voluntarily follow suit; and further that the Australian Court could not assess the law in foreign countries and thus any prospect of success could not be automatically concluded in favour of a change.

On the issue of international recognition, Judge Robertson found that if the Australian Stud Book was forced by the courts to make a change to include AI bred horses, it would not immediately and automatically lose international status.  However, Judge Robertson found that the ISBC would ultimately decide that the Australian Stud Book would no longer be an approved stud book and it would just be a matter of timing as to when the loss of approved status would occur.  He also found that a further consequence of allowing AI bred horses to race alongside Thoroughbreds would be a complete loss of Australia’s black type from the global cataloguing standards.  Therefore, Australian racing would cease to be part of the international community and this isolation would have long ranging consequences for all players in the industry.

Another consideration was the impact on the domestic market, and Judge Robertson found that the introduction of AI would have little impact as prices paid for horses are determined by available prizemoney, rather than cost of production.  Domestic buyers would not pay a different price for AI bred or naturally bred horses if they were allowed to compete together for the same prizemoney.  Judge Robertson also found that both the domestic markets for service fees and for the sale of Thoroughbreds were national (not state based) due to the relatively small cost of transport compared to the prices paid (for both service fees and horses).

But in the end, this case was decided on legal arguments, not the scientific or economic discussions.

Firstly there is the question of whether the rule defining the Thoroughbred, although based on out-dated reasoning, is an attribute of the sport. Judge Robertson found that since McHugh’s team accepted that the Thoroughbred is defined by horses of particular bloodlines, it is “conceptually difficult” for them not to accept that the Thoroughbred is defined by horses of particular bloodlines bred in a particular way.   McHugh’s team, however, stated that there was a logical distinction because the method of conception had nothing to do with the performance of the horse and thus had no bearing on the nature of the sport.  Judge Robertson disagreed, finding that the core of racing is defined by reference to every horse’s breeding, so the method of conception is a key part of the nature of the sport.  Further, Judge Robertson said that the current ban on AI has “pro-competitive effects” as it contributes to the interest of those who play the game.  Judge Robertson found that if the ban on AI was over-turned, even without considering the international flow-on effects, that the demand for horses would diminish and competition would be reduced.

Therefore, the action based on the current rules being contrary to section 45 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 failed because:

  • McHugh’s team did not provide enough evidence that the current rules lead to substantial lessening of competition,
  • the legal definitions of a contract in relation to the rules of a sport and,
  • that McHugh agreed he did not need the Proprietors of the Australian Stud Book to establish his own register for AI horses.


As to the ‘restraint of trade’ argument in common law,  “the law requires an applicant to establish that the restraint was unreasonable at the time it was imposed” and Judge Robertson found that McHugh’s team could not do this ‘given his acceptance of the reasonableness of the alleged restraints when they were imposed many decades ago to prevent the attribution of incorrect paternity to a thoroughbred horse.’

Because the judgment was handed down a few days before Christmas, the typical ten day period for McHugh’s team to notify the court if they wanted to appeal the decision was extended by Judge Robertson until 31 January 2013.  This day passed without any further public action from McHugh.  This story is yet to be completely concluded as McHugh’s barrister retired over the Christmas break and there is a slight possibility that this could lead to an extension of the appeal notification period.

Whether McHugh appeals in the near future or not, this case most likely puts the AI argument to bed in Australia for the time being.

Ultimately, this case was not about the introduction of technology to our industry, but about the authority that the industry has to set their own rules.  AI, and other technologies, will (and should) always be open as points for discussion.  Whatever opinion you, the reader, holds on AI, Australia is part of a global industry and this type of change needs to be agreed by all 69 signatories to the International Agreement on Breeding and Racing.


2018 Melbourne Cup Picks

Melbourne Cup 2018

Race 7 – 3:00PM Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200 METRES) Times displayed in local time of Race Meeting

Of $7,050,000.1st $4,000,000, 2nd $1,000,000, 3rd $500,000, 4th $300,000, 5th $200,000, 6th $150,000, 7th $150,000, 8th $150,000, 9th $150,000, 10th $150,000, 11th $150,000, 12th $150,000

Prize money contribution totalling 2% will be directed to jockey and equine welfare prior to distribution GROUP 1

Handicap, Minimum Weight 49kg, Apprentices cannot claim.

Track Name: Main Track Type: Turf Track Condition: Good 4

Field Limit: 24


Top Six: Avilius, Yucatan, Best Solution, Finche, Runaway, Rostropovich


No          Last 10  Horse    Trainer  Jockey  Barrier  WeightPenalty

1              x3195x1111         BEST SOLUTION (IRE)      Saeed Bin Suroor              Pat Cosgrave      6              57.5kg

Caulfield Cup winner with top weight. Last start winners have an excellent record. Strong record overseas, deserves the top weight and is probably lightly weighted for his race record. Possibility.

2              x512433x43         THE CLIFFSOFMOHER (IRE)          Aidan O’Brien    Ryan Moore       9              56.5kg

Third in Caulfield Cup last start. A good run. O’Brien has an unsuccessful record of using pacemakers in this race, so tactics will depend on whether he continues to do this. Hasn’t won for a while, and they’ve put a lugging bit on him for the first time. Gear change is a concern. Not for me.

3              57x150x11x         MAGIC CIRCLE (IRE)         Ian Williams        Corey Brown      17           56kg

Last start winner in Europe in lower company. Very hard to win without racing in Australia first.

4              5x211250x0         CHESTNUT COAT (JPN)  Yoshito Yahagi   Yuga Kawada     4              55.5kg

Jarred up in the Caulfield Cup. Will do better on softer ground if it rains today, but his form isn’t great.

5              1796x4341x         MUNTAHAA (IRE)            John Gosden      Jim Crowley        13           55.5kg

Bred for the wet. Last start winner in Europe in a traditionally good form race. Would rather see him run here first.

6              144x1132x0         SOUND CHECK (GER)      Michael Moroney            Jordan Childs      16           55.5kg

No good in the Caulfield Cup. Ok form in Europe prior.

7              x6731x7694         WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (NZ)    Chris Waller        Ben Melham      18           55.5kg

The people’s horse. This wonderful sound old gelding has been knocking around Australia for ages. As a 10yo, it’s hard to see him winning. Place chance.

8              5462×02410         ACE HIGH            David Payne       Tye Angland       22           55kg                       110

Attempting to win the VRC Derby/Melbourne Cup double, only ever achieved by Phar Lap and Efficient (2006). Ran poorly last start.

9              1x69x2112x         MARMELO (GB) Hughie Morrison              Hugh Bowman  10           55kg

Another European trying to win the Cup without having a run here first. Ran 9th last year and will do about the same again.

10           3326×11114         AVILIUS (GB)      James Cummings             Glyn Schofield   11           54.5kg   1.5kg

Same lead up as Green Moon and Efficient (same owner). Excellent fourth behind Winx in the Cox Plate, and in winning form before that. One of the best chances.

11           2x436013x1         YUCATAN (IRE)  Aidan O’Brien    James McDonald              23           54.5kg   2.5kg

This is the horse O’Brien wants to win. That’s why he has two other runners  – to set up the tactics for this one. Yucatan is beautifully bred being by champion sire Galileo from Breeders Cup mile winner Six Perfections. He has mixed European form and won very impressively in his first Australian start. Deserved favourite.

12           56164×5266         AUVRAY (FR)      Richard Freedman           Tommy Berry     1              54kg

Can stay. Won’t mind the wet if it rains. Mixed form. Meh.

13           13x655x1x3         FINCHE (GB)       Chris Waller        Zac Purton          15           54kg

Okay form in France. Third in the Geelong Cup in his first Aussie run should be good form with the strong pace set in that race. A place chance.

14           x5x0x08030         RED CARDINAL (IRE)        Darren Weir       Damien Oliver   5              54kg

Mixes his form. Hard to like.

15           21x05x4059         VENGEUR MASQUE (IRE)              Michael Moroney            Patrick Moloney               2              54kg

Not in good enough form.

16           7829×79401         VENTURA STORM (IRE)  David & B Hayes & T Dabernig    Mark Zahra         7              54kg

Last start winner but form behind that is mixed. Maybe.

17           2188632×31         A PRINCE OF ARRAN (GB)             Charlie Fellowes               Michael Walker 20           53kg

Last start winner. Going okay in lower grades. Place chance.

18           1x5x005770         NAKEETA (GB)   Iain Jardine         Regan Bayliss     3              53kg

Out of form. No.

19           4513×01473         SIR CHARLES ROAD          Lance O’Sullivan & Andrew Scott               Dwayne Dunn    14           53kg

Consistent in lower grades. Should be in the top six.

20           58402×0080         ZACADA (NZ)     Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman             Damian Lane      24           53kg

As much as it would be cool for Zabeel to get another Cup winner, Zacada isn’t going well enough at the moment.

21           231130×341         RUNAWAY          Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott   Stephen Baster 12           52kg       1.5kg

Light weight chance who won the Geelong Cup last start. A grinding tough staying type who should lead and will stick on. Good chance.

22           11113×6327         YOUNGSTAR      Chris Waller        Craig Williams    8              51.5kg

Similar path to Ethereal, but not quite showing as much as you’d like. Maybe with the light weight, depending on tactics.

23           11x24112x           CROSS COUNTER (GB)    Charlie Appleby Kerrin McEvoy   19           51kg

One of the two European three-year-olds (4YO to southern hemisphere time). Hasn’t been seen here yet, which is a negative, but has strong form back in Europe. A light weight chance depending on how well he’s travelled here.

24           3×41922515         ROSTROPOVICH (IRE)     Aidan O’Brien    Wayne Lordan   21           51kg

An interesting one. Fifth in Cox Plate behind Winx is solid form, and was a winner in Europe before that. The last three-year-old to place was Nothin’ Leica Dane (who was a spring 3YO, this guy is nearly 4YO). Place chance depending on stable tactics. I expect Cliffs of Moher will lead with a strong pace so Rostropovich and Yucatan can run on from mid-field.

Sire Title Trends

Written in March 2016 for Bluebloods, this article looks at the trends in the Australian Sires Title.


Find it here.

Todman Statue

At Rosehill Racecourse stands a statue of Todman, the inaugural Golden Slipper winner. Bred at Baramul Stud in 1954 by Stanley Wootton, Todman was the first named foal from the minor winner Oceana (Colombo – Orama, by Diophon), and from the third crop of imported galloper Star Kingdom (Stardust – Impromptu, by Concerto). Oceana had eight foals, and all were by Star Kingdom, including Noholme (born 1956, winner of the Gr.1 Cox Plate, Epsom, Champagne, All-Aged, successful sire), Shifnal (born 1960, minor winner and successful sire), Faringdon (born 1961, minor winner and sire), and Greatness (born 1964, unraced dam of stakes winner Hamden).

Typical of the Star Kingdoms, Todman was a small, nuggety type of horse standing only 15.1hh, but the pocket rocket supposedly had a huge stride length; 26 feet 2 inches (nearly 8m) when he was at full gallop. The colt had attitude to burn, and his trainer Maurice McCarten once compared Todman to his brother Noholme, saying “If you invited both horses to afternoon tea you would find Noholme the perfect gentleman – punctual, gracious and always willing to please. Todman, on the other hand, would arrive late and without apology would eat greedily, drink everything within reach, and would inevitably knock a table over stretching for more. And when he had finally had enough he would then sit back and look to start an argument.”

The full article is in the March 2018 issue of Bluebloods magazine.


Bluebloods Author Page

Bluebloods magazine have created an author page for my articles.

You can view it hereCapture.

Inglis Easter 2018

The annual Breeding & Racing Easter edition is out now. Click hereInglis_Easter_2018.

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