The former chairman of an Australian racetrack is testing Australian thoroughbred breeding’s ban on artificial insemination (AI) in court.

Bruce McHugh, the former chairman of the Sydney Turf Club, has brought a case in the Sydney Federal Court, calling for the Australian Jockey Club to change its rules.

The prohibition of AI for thoroughbreds has been in place in Australia since 1949.

But Mr McHugh says it puts small breeders at a disadvantage, if they have to travel vast distances to breed their mares.

It could also improve breeding by allowing access to the sperm of top-rated horses from abroad.

A victory for Mr McHugh would make Australia the only major country to allow thoroughbreds conceived by AI to race.