Ask H&H: racehorse freeze-branding

  • Q: AT Royal Ascot I noticed that Aidan O’Brien’s Australian-bred Haradasun had three numbers marked on his shoulder. I presume it is a form of freezemark, but do these numbers signify anything?
    JD, Buckinghamshire

    What is the branding?

    ALL Australian racehorses fall under the banner of the country’s Registrar of Racehorses (ROR) and, to be accepted for inclusion into the Australian Stud Book, each thoroughbred is required to be freeze-branded.

    The brand has three parts. Each stud, breeder, owner or agent has a distinguishing brand consisting of letters or symbols that goes on the horse’s near-shoulder.

    The rest of the brand is numerical and is placed on either the near- or off-shoulder, depending on which state the foal was born in. The upper number signifies the order in which the foals were branded, while the lower figure represents the last digit of the year in which the foal was born (for example, 2003, 1993 or 1983). For older horses, the teeth will determine to which decade the lower number belongs.

    According to his branding therefore, Haradasun was the 16th foal to be branded from his stud in 2003.

    All foals born in Australia since 2003 must also be microchipped. Breeders receive a foal identification card when parentage verification is confirmed and this card must accompany the horse at all times as it is the official document against which it will be identified during its racing and breeding life.

    Are UK racehorses freeze-branded?

    ACCORDING to Di Harvey, Weatherby’s stud book registrar, since 1999, all thoroughbred foals born in Great Britain and Ireland are required to be microchipped but not freezemarked.

    “Further integrity measures employed to identify thoroughbreds are accurate markings recorded in the passport and DNA parentage verification,” she explained.

    Why was Haradasun racing in the UK?

    THE annual raid on Royal Ascot by the Australian sprinters is now an integral part of the meeting, but Haradasun’s story is slightly different.

    The well-bred colt was trained to dual-Group One success in Australia where, as a three-year-old, John Magnier’s Coolmore Stud bought a half-share in him.

    He was brought over to Ireland with the aim of winning a Group One race before he could be retired to stand at stud in both hemispheres. Under the expert tutelage of Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien, Haradasun duly obliged in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.

    He was the only Australian thoroughbred in residence at the Ballydoyle stables, but is now said to be in quarantine before being shipped back Down Under to earn his keep as a stallion during the southern hemisphere’s stud season.

    Registrar of Racehorses www.ror.net.au
    Ballydoyle www.coolmore.com/ballydoyle
    Weatherbys www.weatherbys.net

    This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (24 July, ’08)

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