Great Eastern Horse Transport Corridor of Commerce

Great Eastern Horse Transport Corridor of Commerce

See featured image

Recently a professional colleague still gainfully employed in the industry (Dr David Railton) alerted me to a new or recent phenomenon of which I was vaguely aware but not fully apprised. I refer to what I have now labelled as the ‘Great Eastern Horse Transport Corridor of Commerce’ in Australia.

For at least 9 months of the year with some seasonal peaks and hollows there is a constant flow of mainly thoroughbred horses being transported to the multifarious sales, races and horse events taking place almost every week at various locations along the eastern seaboard and about 160km or more inland. Thoroughbred sales are the main driver and have largely devolved to a duopoly of the two largest agencies in the industry; one very long standing, William Inglis & Sons and the relatively recent prodigy the Magic Millions Sales Company. Both are quite aggressive in pursuing their competitive marketing advantages. ‘Sales Graduates’ are cited as the major drawcards to the sale. In actual fact it is the horses that make the sale rather than the converse. The transient migratory horse populations are drawn from the three major thoroughbred breeding centres of the Darling Downs (QLD), Upper Hunter Valley (NSW) and NE Victoria. There is a ferocious exchange of broodmares during the breeding season and an equally frenetic trade of young horses for the sales periods which last almost without interruption from January to late June. Much of this furious activity is highly questionable on animal welfare and other grounds. However nothing will change very much in the short term.

This massive ‘geographic’ population mobility is a uniquely Australian commodity. In most other major thoroughbred breeding countries the principal sales are held at locations central to the areas of ‘production’ or breeding. Think of Newmarket, Suffolk, England; Goff’s Sales in Ireland; Lexington KY USA; Deauville in France and closer to home Karaka in New Zealand. In Australia we are perhaps more ‘market driven’ by attempting to take the product to a market place where it is assumed the potential buyers prefer to be or are located? The Gold Coast is the prime example which has emerged phoenix-like from the original genesis of the late Carl Waugh’s quite brilliant ‘million dollar idea’? Sydney and Melbourne are a ‘given’ in any argument pertaining to the sale of thoroughbreds in Australia. They are more readily accessible for International buyers.

There has developed a massive horse transport industry designed to overcome the ‘tyranny of distance’ adduced initially by eminent historian Professor Geoffrey Blainey. A quick ‘Google Search’ identifies a multitude of such providers all of whom offer reliable and efficient horse transport services between the larger centres along the eastern seaboard from SE Queensland to SA and all points in between. I haven’t done the sums but the figures might approach the old Cobb & Co numbers of as many as thousands of ‘horses-on-the-road’ on any one day at the peak?

Tamworth has cemented its place as the mecca for working horse activities with the great success of the magnificent Australian Equine Livestock & Events Centre (AELEC). There is hardly a spare week end throughout the year with a constant round of equestrian events taking place. Similarly Warwick is a hive of equine activity especially during the Warwick Gold Cup of Camp Drafting. Both are located along the New England Highway which is one of the main arterial corridors of transport. Scone has recently opened its brilliant brand new covered arena where a multitude of horse events are planned and in progress.