The average prizemoney for an Australian horse race has surged past $50,000 for the first time, with a $1 million-plus race to be contested every four days across 2024.

They are a couple of the key stats to emerge from the annual Aushorse Investor’s Guide, a key promotional tool for the thoroughbred breeding industry ahead of the 2024 sales season, which starts at Magic Millions on the Gold Coast early next month.

The rate of the rise in the level of Australian prizemoney may have slowed over the past 12 months but, as the report identifies, the overall increase over the past five years has been 45 per cent.

That compares with 21 per cent growth in prizemoney over the same period in Ireland, 17 per cent in the United States and six per cent in each of France and the United Kingdom.

It means that the average prizemoney per race from the circa 19,000 races run in Australia across this past year has been a record $50,800, with one in every 63 active horses surpassing $500,000 in career prizemoney.

Aushorse Investor’s Guide 2024
Welcome to the 2024 Aushorse Investor’s Guide. We believe there is no better place to race a horse than in Australia.

The growth has been particularly strong at the top end. In 2019, there were 55 races worth more than $1 million run in Australia each year but in 2024, that will grow to 92, meaning a million-dollar race is contested every 3.8 days.

Tom Reilly, chief executive of Aushorse, said the numbers point to the robust health of the Australian industry, which has gone from strength-to-strength in terms of all the key numbers, in the post-pandemic era.

“It’s incredible that there are close to 100 races worth a million dollars or more next year, but it's also really important that the average race value has also soared, giving all owners a chance to get a return on their investment,” Reilly said.

But beyond just prizemoney, the Investor’s Guide also puts forward evidence that the quality and value of Australian racing also leads the rest of the world. In four of the past five years, Australia has hosted more top-rated Group 1 races than any other jurisdiction.

Across that five-year period, Australia has hosted a combined 121 of the Top 100 annual races, while Great Britain is second on 93 and the United States third on 84.

Australian-bred HK star Golden Sixty
Australian-bred Hong Kong star Golden Sixty (Photo by Yu Chun Christopher Wong/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

What the guide also highlights is the relative affordability of Australian bloodstock compared to overseas. The average cost of the top 50-priced yearling fillies in Australia in 2023 was $764,986, compared to close to $1 million in Europe and Great Britain and $1.05 million in the United States.

The top 50 yearling colts were sold at an even greater discount on in Australia, where they averaged $573,976. The comparative average in the United States was $834,250, while it was $858,054 in Europe and Great Britain.

That will be a key selling point to international investors ahead of the 2024 yearling sales season, as will the fact the Australian dollar has fallen from a 2023 peak of 71.5 cents to 66 cents in December.

"Anyone who went to a major race meeting during spring would testify, racing is very much part of the Australian way of life." - Tom Reilly

The 2023 Australian bloodstock market took a slight backward step off the record highs of 2022, but Reilly believes confidence in that market remains high off the back of those key metrics listed.

“As we have seen with the recent breeding stock sales in the northern hemisphere, the top end of the market is very buoyant and Australia offers those high end investors a wonderful opportunity,” he said.

“What’s more, as anyone who went to a major race meeting during spring would testify, racing is very much part of the Australian way of life.”

That positive light, and the usefulness of the Investor’s Guide in highlighting that, is backed up by the heads of two major sales companies.

“With a million dollar race every 3.8 days and average race prize money of over $50,000, the Investor’s Guide does a great job of selling the Australian thoroughbred industry to Magic Millions clients,” Magic Millions Managing Director Barry Bowditch said.

“That is no matter whether they are buying at the top end of our Gold Coast Yearling Sale or trying to find another Group 1 winner from our diverse Australia wide yearling sale series.”

Yulong rising - How an emerging global behemoth is shaking-up Australia’s thoroughbred industry
Helen Thomas explores the spectacular rise of Yulong and the questions it raises for the broader thoroughbred industry.

Inglis CEO - Bloodstock Sales, Sebastian Hutch, said it was important that the industry identifies the  key statistical selling points when dealing with potential investors.  

“The Investor’s Guide does a great job selling the Australian thoroughbred industry to both international and domestic audiences. It contains so much compelling information,” he said.

“It is referenced right throughout the year by the Inglis team when discussing the Australian bloodstock market with both domestic and international participants or prospective participants.”

“It is without doubt the most effective document of its kind that I have seen published anywhere in the world.”