UK racing industry leaders, including those representing jockeys, trainers, owners and Britain’s racecourses, have pledged their support for a new strategy for horse welfare published on Thursday.
‘A Life Well Lived’ sets out an ambitious programme to further improve safety and quantify the benefits to horses’ welfare and wellbeing from being trained to take part in sport. The strategy was commissioned and approved by the sport’s senior leaders, including the governing body, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the Racecourse Association (RCA) and the groups representing jockeys, trainers, owners and breeders.
The work was carried out by the sport’s Horse Welfare Board, which has an independent Chair – Barry Johnson, a former President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons – and includes representatives from across the industry, alongside the former Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch MP.
The Horse Welfare Board presented their strategy to the Members’ Committee, the sport’s senior governing council, before Christmas. All 20 recommendations were approved by the Committee on February 3, as well as development of 26 supporting projects.
The Members’ Committee has agreed that the racing industry will work together to implement the strategy. The independently chaired Horse Welfare Board will oversee and coordinate its delivery.
As a starting point, the Committee has asked industry executives to draw up an implementation plan which will prioritise, fund and resource the various projects, recognising that the strategy will require a significant investment in terms of both people and funds over its five-year scope and beyond.
Annamarie Phelps, Chair of the BHA, said: “The publication of this strategy is a landmark moment for the sport. A unified and coordinated approach around welfare will bring together the remarkable people and first-class work that already exists in the industry to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
“The scope of the ambition set out by the Horse Welfare Board was daunting at first glance. But it’s based on the strongest of foundations – the pride, passion and dedication of the thousands of people who work in the racing industry.
“Our thanks go to the Horse Welfare Board for their significant personal investment in pulling together this strategy. Their commitment and innovation must now be matched by the industry. We must work together to raise our ambitions, show unity and positivity and demonstrate to the world why we are all so proud to work in this great sport, and how the thoroughbred racehorse is our industry’s greatest and most cherished asset.”
Maggie Carver, Chair of the RCA, said: “I would like to congratulate the Horse Welfare Board in producing such a thorough, comprehensive, evidence‐based report. That evidence shows that there are areas where we can strive to do better and that there is an urgent need to respond to changes in society in order to keep racing popular.
“It is now up to all of us to respond with positive plans for improvement and change, not just in the short‐term but sustainably over the years ahead.”
Nicholas Cooper, President of the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), said: “The founding principle of the Horse Welfare Board was to better engage the wider bloodstock and racing industry in a structured manner, in order to allow our great sport to advance welfare standards for all thoroughbreds, as well as minimise – wherever possible – the risks associated with racing horses.
“The strategy proposed today is of huge importance and significance for the racing industry and the welfare board should be congratulated for delivering such a rounded and thorough document. We hope that the entire sport will get behind it and support the strategy, and play their part in its implementation.”
In addition, the Committee has agreed the open consultation model which will be used for the forthcoming consultation around the whip.
While the consultation will be open to the public, the outcome will not be determined by sheer volume of responses alone. The consultation model allows for appropriate weighting to be given to responses in order that any decision remains one for British racing.