Sheikh's Stud Sets New Precedent in Breeding: Mares Booked by Quota, not by Finances

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A startling fact popped off the page of one of the racing magazines the other day. It said that one popular Thoroughbred sire breeds a mare every four hours, around the clock, during the breeding season.

While that assignment puts impressive physical stress on a horse, I was also thinking about the financial math of this marathon.

Encosta de Lago ? the first horse in Australia confirmed with the Equine Influenza ? has been stranded in quarantine for weeks. Encosta de Lago is Australia's top stallion this year and would normally serve more than 100 mares during a season at a fee of $200,000 a mare. If he serves no mares this season, that is at least $20 million of lost potential income for one stallion alone.

Shadwell Stud in England, owned by Sheikh Hamdan of Dubai, has just adopted a policy worldwide of restricting their stallions to 85 mares. This has made the task of allocating nominations difficult in view of the fact that they have received over 300 applications from mare owners hoping to breed to their popular stallion Nayef in 2008.