Racing Victoria (RV) is pleased to demonstrate its formal commitment to the welfare of thoroughbred racehorses before, during and after racing through the release today of its Equine Welfare Strategy.
The Strategy details RV’s aims over the next 18 months with 10 key initiatives outlined including the development of a Welfare Advisory Panel, compulsory online education modules for participants, a world leading research program and an expansion of RV’s Off the Track program.
RV’s vision is to be recognised as a leader in equine welfare and to build a racing culture in which the safety and welfare of the racehorse is paramount to all participants and owners.
RV Chief Executive, Bernard Saundry, said, “Racing Victoria will invest over $2.5 million annually on raceday veterinary care, welfare compliance, research and our Off The Track retirement program. The welfare of the thoroughbred remains central to the successful conduct of our sport.
“Our Equine Welfare Strategy was developed following an extensive consultation process with industry stakeholders and external experts and builds upon the valuable work of those in racing over the past decade in delivering improved welfare outcomes for thoroughbreds.
“The initiatives outlined in the Strategy focus on further improving the welfare outcomes for thoroughbred racehorses before, during and after their racing careers. We have identified 10 key initiatives among a series of broader aims that we believe are in the best interests of our thoroughbreds and the long-term success of the industry.
“We are striving for greater traceability before racing and investing heavily in research in the hope of reducing injuries and fatal accidents during racing. We believe there’s a home for every healthy thoroughbred after racing and we’re expanding our Off the Track program to assist this.
“The horse is the centrepiece of our industry and this Strategy is an industry-wide commitment that aims to ensure every thoroughbred racehorse in Victoria is afforded the appropriate level of care and welfare by participants and owners.”
Australian Trainers Association (ATA) Chief Executive, Andrew Nichol, said, “The ATA commends Racing Victoria for this initiative, which unequivocally demonstrates its commitment to equine welfare.
“The welfare of the racehorse has always been a priority for trainers. Accordingly, it is both pleasing and reassuring that this program will allow the community to understand and experience the Victorian racing industry’s collective approach to a long-term, comprehensive investment into the wellbeing program for our equine counterparts.”
Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association (TROA) Chairman, Jonathon Munz, said, “Owners invest over $300 million in Victoria each year on the welfare and training of their racehorses and are committed to providing them with the best possible care.
“As an industry we must continue to put the practical welfare of the horse at the forefront of our decision making. TROA will continue to seek to provide valuable and sensible input to Racing Victoria in this area.”
Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria (TBV) President, James O’Brien, said, “Breeders are passionate about the care of their horses and are committed to upholding the highest standards of welfare. Racing Victoria’s strategy and recent rule changes will greatly contribute to supporting breeders in this important objective.”
Victorian Jockey Association (VJA) Chairman, Stephen Baster, said, “I speak on behalf of all Victorian jockeys in thoroughly endorsing Racing Victoria’s strong commitment to equine welfare, not just in relation to raceday care, but throughout the entire life of the horse, before, during and after racing.”
Racing Victoria Equine Welfare Strategy
Racing Victoria’s Equine Welfare Strategy is underpinned by the following overarching aims;
- Consolidating and advancing knowledge, policies, guidelines and practices where there is scope to improve outcomes for horses;
- Working with other organisations within racing and beyond, to share knowledge and improve practices in other jurisdictions or equine pursuits;
- Developing and implementing programs and initiatives that advance welfare outcomes for racehorses before, during and after racing; and
- Positioning the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry as a leader in equine welfare in Australia.
Over the next 18 months, the 10 key initiatives that Racing Victoria will focus on as part of its Equine Welfare Strategy are:
- A Welfare Advisory Panel will be created by RV consisting of key industry leaders and experts from all facets of the equine industry to advise on improved welfare outcomes for thoroughbreds before, during and after racing. This Panel will be appointed by December 2016.
- RV is developing a Code of Practice, outlining its expectations for the care of thoroughbred racehorses by all industry participants. The Code of Practice will be launched in December 2016 and will be a mandatory component of the next licensing renewal period in 2017.
- A compulsory online education module in equine welfare will be introduced for all industry participants. It will be a mandatory component of the next licensing renewal period in 2017.
- RV is finalising a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work collaboratively with the RSPCA Victoria on initiatives that benefit the welfare of thoroughbred racehorses and ensure an appropriate exchange of information.
- Following the introduction of a compulsory registration rule in August 2016, RV is working with Racing Australia to achieve national reforms that enable greater traceability of all thoroughbreds from birth to gain a better understanding of their lifecycle. RV committed to knowing what happens to 100% of the foals born in any year in Victoria. To support this, RV will audit a minimum of 25 per cent of the foals born in Victoria to ensure compliance with all rules relating to traceability, ownership and welfare.
- Having recently completed a study on the life cycle of foals born in Victoria in 2005, Racing Victoria has now commissioned further studies on the life cycle of foals born in 2010 and 2015. These projects provide valuable information on the life cycle of thoroughbred foals to benchmark against future data.
- RV is partnering with the Victorian Government and the University of Melbourne in a newly launched $5.25 million research project aimed at the early detection and prevention of bone injuries in thoroughbred racehorses. The research project – the biggest investment of its kind into equine welfare research in Australia – will conclude in 2019 with the findings to help inform trainers of best practice for catastrophic limb injury prevention. Through the research, RV aims to reduce the rate of raceday fatalities in flat racing from an average 0.051 per cent of starters per season towards 0.00 per cent.
- A compulsory online veterinary record system will be introduced for trainers and their veterinary teams which will allow RV to monitor all veterinary records for integrity and welfare purposes to ensure that all treatments are recorded transparently. A launch target of July 2017 has been set.
- Expand RV’s successful Off the Track program, which promotes the adaptability and versatility of the thoroughbred to the equestrian and pleasure industry and helps facilitate the placement of retired racehorses into post-racing careers. RV believes there’s a home for healthy thoroughbred and over the next 12 months, aims to grow its network of acknowledged retrainers in Victoria from 40 to 60 expanding the range of disciplines available for retired racehorses.
Develop strategic partnerships with key equine and equestrian bodies in Victoria, including Equestrian Victoria, that assist with post-racing careers for healthy retired racehorses.