Over the past seven years, the number of thoroughbreds imported annually to Australia from Europe has more than doubled.

European-bred horses
European-bred horses have never had so much success in Australia. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

In 2015/16, there were 237 horses sent to Australia from Great Britain, Ireland or continental Europe. In the most recent Racing Australia figures from 2022/23, this jumped to 736, by far the highest since records of this nature were kept.

Anecdotal information indicates that the flood of imports has continued over the past six months.

Usually purchased either publicly or privately as tried horses, they add depth to the racing ranks, especially at metropolitan level and in middle to staying distances. This Saturday at Rosehill and Caulfield, they make up 12 per cent of runners.

However, suggestions from breeders and vendors are that the tried horse market is having an adverse impact on yearling markets. They contend that demand for young, untried Australian stock is falling at the expense of ‘ready-to-go’ imports which offer quicker returns for owners.

At last year’s Tattersalls Horses In Training Sale in Newmarket, Australian connections purchased 41 individual horses spending around $AU11 million. Many more millions have been spent in private sales over the past 12 months.

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