BHA welcomes parliamentary debate on welfare after petition meets threshold

The BHA has welcomed the possibility of a government discussion surrounding the subject of racehorse welfare after a petition started by Animal Aid reached the necessary 100,000 signature threshold to trigger consideration for parliamentary debate.

The petition, which calls for an independent organisation to be established that would replace the BHA in its role as horse welfare regulator, had reached more than 105,000 signatures on Monday evening and closes at midnight.

BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said: "If there is a parliamentary debate we would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate how British racing looks after the welfare of our horses. We agree with the government’s response to this petition which was issued earlier this year.

"British racing is among the world’s best regulated animal activities, with our horses provided with a level of care and quality of life that is virtually unsurpassed by any other domesticated animal."

A debate being granted is by no means guaranteed as, when the petition reached 10,000 signatures in March, the government's initial response was: "The government does not consider that it is necessary to create a new body to protect racehorse welfare."

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs added: "The BHA is responsible for the safety of jockeys and horses at races in this country. The BHA works with animal welfare organisations like the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare to keep racecourses as safe as possible for horses.

"According to the BHA the overall equine fatality rate in British racing has reduced by one-third in the last 20 years, from 0.3 per cent to less than 0.2 per cent of runners in 2017, the lowest figure on record.

"Given that overall racehorse welfare is improving and fatalities at racecourses are falling, we do not see a need to set up another body responsible for racehorse welfare."

Celebrities such as Brian May, Pamela Anderson and Ricky Gervais helped publicise the petition.