Professor Nigel Perkins, Chair of the AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program Advisory Panel, has welcomed Queenslander Michael Grieve and Victorian Mike Becker to the Advisory Panel. The pair were appointed to the Advisory Panel following a competitive application and assessment process with AgriFutures Australia and industry representatives.
“We’re pleased to have Michael Grieve and Mike Becker join us with their unique skills, and extensive experience and knowledge,” said Professor Perkins.
“Both men are industry leaders and have forged long and successful careers in the thoroughbred breeding industry and we look forward to working with them.”
AgriFutures Australia Manager, Research Annelies McGaw said due to COVID-19 the Advisory Panel might have to wait a little longer before meeting both men in person.
“Both Michael and Mike have been inducted and met everyone online and there’s a lot of excitement about tapping into their wealth of industry knowledge as we consider future research proposals,” said Ms McGaw.
Breeding is at the core of the industry
Michael Grieve is a former teacher who transferred his passion for horses from a hobby into a successful thoroughbred horse breeding business called Grandview Stud, at Peak Crossing near Ipswich.
Starting with one broodmare in around 1998, he now has two stallions, more than twenty horses, and a very loyal client base.
As a stay at home dad, Michael was able to focus on growing the family business and develop his thoroughbred breeding business from the ground up.
He remains passionate that the industry must retain its grass roots focus so that the ‘Sport of Kings’ is not just for the rich and famous and big players.
According to Michael, many breeders in the industry have just one or two mares and more than half of all mares are owned by breeders with five or fewer horses.
“As a breeder, I want to make sure future generations can follow their passion and get a start in the industry and make it sustainable and enjoyable as I did without it being cost prohibitive,” said Michael.
“That is why research and development is so critical in keeping up-to-date with animal health and welfare so the industry remains relevant, affordable and accessible for breeders and owners.”
Foal health and development is key
Stud master Mike Becker is one of Australia’s most well-known breeders having been involved in the industry since the late 80s when he moved from South Australia to Victoria to manage Stockwell Stud. During his time at Stockwell Thoroughbreds the stud stood three top stallions, Artie Schiller, Al Maher and Rock Sturdy. In 1993, he formed Independent Stallions Pty Ltd at Tool Vale and at its peak stood 11 stallions before downsizing and moving to the Eurora area.
He has come full circle and has a long-term lease with his son Brodie on an Emirates Park property, formerly Stockwell Stud.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry and I remember a time when there were no ultrasound machines so a mare’s pregnancy would be described by a veterinarian as either a golf ball or grapefruit size and that’s how we knew the timing around the mare’s pregnancy,” said Mike.
“Decades on, thoroughbred fertility is still a major issue and it’s really important the industry puts its time and energy into the early detection of foal development and health, and why some foals are more suspectable to disease than others.”
What the future holds
Mike Becker is looking forward to contributing to the Advisory Panel in a meaningful way. He hopes to use his extensive knowledge of the industry which has been built over many years to add value to the research and development programs.
He is also looking forward to learning more about research programs for the industry.
“For me, new ideas and concepts are great but they need to be balanced with a workable and practical application so that it helps breeders stay in the industry and improve industry outcomes,” said Mike.
“Cost is an increasingly important factor particularly for many medium to small breeders and we need to be mindful of the impact of rising veterinary and agistment costs,” said Mike.
“I’d also like to see a stronger rural base for breeding outcomes so that the market remains buoyant for brood mares and full fields racing in regional areas.”
Michael Grieve shares similar concerns.
“I want to be able to examine the day to day issues such as the loss of a foal and the devasting impact that has on everyone involved and why certain horses do better than others,” said Mike.
“I am also interested in examining the industry from a national perspective and how I can use my knowledge to help others.”
Why giving back is important
Both men have a strong focus on giving back to the industry and their communities.
Michael Grieve holds several volunteer roles with the Royal Queensland Show Council, Ipswich Show Society and is an executive member of the Queensland Thoroughbred Breeders Association.
“Giving back to the community really does make a difference,” said Michael.
“You do it because it is a really hands on thing to do to and the people you meet, helps in everything you do.”
It is a similar story for Mike Becker who’s been a board member of Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria (TBV) for 14 years, serving as President from 2000 to 2008.
In 2008 he was honoured to receive life membership of TBV. He has also served on the board of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia for eight years.
“I am looking forward to having some meaningful impact and hearing more about the research that will translate into a workable application at the farmgate,” said Mike.
For information go to: agrifutures.com.au /thoroughbred-horses/