UK racing has announced the launch of a ‘Racehorse Relief Fund’, managed by the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) in support of stud owners, trainers and UK stables mitigating the financial hardships brought on by the ongoing global COVID-19 crisis.
The ROA’s fund has been granted approval by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to serve as a relief programme for UK racing, funded directly by central charity The Racing Foundation.
In its statement, the ROA underlined the urgent need to direct funds to owners who have felt the brunt of a disrupted racing season, having to maintain facilities, welfare and training cost without any guaranteed source of income.
“A survey undertaken by the ROA and NTF in April 2020 indicated that, from the 30% of trainers that responded, there were already 77 owners unable to pay training fees and over 1,500 horses possibly at risk of being abandoned.” detailed the ROA.
Founded in 1945, The ROA promotes, protects and sustains racehorse ownership and welfare stakeholders across the UK, maintaining an active membership of 7,900 racehorse owners.
ROA Chief Executive, Charlie Liverton stated that a relief fund was needed in order to maintain animal welfare, whilst also assisting racing’s financial stability at a critical time for owners ‘assessing the right path for their businesses, whether in racing or beyond’.
“This is about protecting horses and livelihoods. As the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis continue to crystallise it is clear that some owners will be financially affected and no longer able to sustain training fees” Liverton said.
“As a last resort, we hope that this fund will help horses, trainers and owners find a solution that meets the high standards of welfare we expect and provides some financial stability to training yards.”
The ROA’s relief fund will provide a financial lifeline, allowing horses to remain on licensed yards and for owners to cover daily ‘out of training costs for a period of up to three months’, while the most appropriate future for the horse can be determined.
Backing the ROA’s directive, Racing Foundation’s CEO Rob Hezel, commented: “The Racing Foundation is proud to be supporting the RRF as the industry looks to minimise the hardship created by COVID-19 on its participants both human and equine.
“Equine abandonment is a concern for the sport during this period given the massive financial impact of COVID-19. The fund will provide a vital safety net to protect horses and prevent welfare issues occurring.”