SBC News BHA highlights commitment to welfare in British racing
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BHA highlights commitment to welfare in British racing

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has underscored the importance of horse safety in British Racing in its new welfare update.

The group outlined that more than £47m has been invested in the last 20 years into veterinary research and education, benefiting all breeds of horses in the country including thoroughbreds.

“British Racing is committed to ensuring the welfare of all Thoroughbreds in England, Scotland and Wales,” the BHA said, noting that across Britain, over 6000 people who are passionate about horses and racing dedicate their lives, daily, to caring for the more than 20,000 horses who race across a year.   

“Furthermore, we are proud of the high welfare standards that thoroughbreds receive on and off the racecourse pre, during and after their racing careers,” the group added.

The organisation also emphasised that a career in racing benefits horses in their later life too, attributing a high health status, and the versatility that comes from being athletic and having had experience in training to making them ‘ideal animals to go on to further careers’. 

The BHA – which is responsible for setting and enforcing the welfare standards that all participants must adhere to – continued: “While the sport carries some risk for its participants – as with all sporting activities or activities involving animals – this level of risk is very low and is outweighed by the benefits of racing, not only to humans but to horses too.”

These standards are embedded in the sport’s rules, raceday regulations, education, licensing and disciplinary procedures, and are enforced by teams of vets, racecourse inspectors, stable inspecting officers and raceday officials. 

Meanwhile, together with the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare, the BHA is a signatory of the National Equine Welfare Protocol, which was developed by representatives from local and national government, the police, welfare organisations and others with an interest in equine welfare.

In further detail, during race days, the BHA ensures that a team of Veterinary Officers are on the racecourse to oversee equine welfare. 

These ensure that the sport’s strict welfare rules and standards are adhered to, oversee teams of veterinary surgeons employed by the racecourse as well as carry out pre-race and post-race checks on horses to ensure they are healthy and fit.

Furthermore, the sport’s independently-chaired Horse Welfare Board has a five-year strategic plan for the welfare of horses bred for racing. The plan includes 26 projects identified to help British Racing continuously improve all aspects of racehorse welfare in the sport.

A total of 21 projects are now live with £5.5m of funding secured from the Racing Foundation in 2022, and ongoing financial support from the Horserace Betting Levy Board. 

BHA also highlighted its ‘excellent safety record’, adding: “It is the responsibility of the BHA and everyone involved in the sport to ensure that we do everything possible to minimise risk to horses and to ensure that no injury or fatality occurs which could reasonably have been prevented.”

Finally, the sport also looks after horses at all stages of their lives through the sport’s own charity – Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) – which is responsible for developing longer‐term, sustainable solutions to the question of what happens to horses when they finish racing by generating demand for these horses across a range of equine disciplines.

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