A range of welfare initiatives and programs are in place to ensure the best standards of care are provided to equine athletes.

To ensure these high standards are upheld, racing is governed by overarching rules and regulations which are enforced by stewards.

We share responsibility for equine athletes throughout their racing careers, with support on hand for our participants.

Strict Governance and Oversight

The racing sector has Rules of Racing in place, which include strict rules on the care and treatment of racing animals. Stewards are the police of the racing sector who enforce these rules on and off the track. 

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Stud Book Registration

All horses bred for racing are recorded with the Australian Stud Book (thoroughbreds) and Harness Racing Australia (standardbred). Notification of the status and whereabouts of a horse, from the moment it is foaled, is maintained. All horses have microchips and branding to ensure they are easily identified.

Traceability

The location of a horse is tracked throughout their career. A dedicated Equine Traceability Compliance Welfare Officer is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the horse’s location. 

Veterinary Care

A veterinarian attends all race meetings and trials and conducts examinations where required. A horse will not be allowed to race if there are concerns for their wellbeing. All two-year-old horses and horses aged over twelve years are examined before they race.

Welfare Policies

There are a number of policies to protect the welfare of equine athletes in racing, including:

  • Testing for prohibited substances.
  • Hot weather policy.
  • Number of starts permitted in a certain period.
  • Safety limits regarding the numbers of horses in a race.
  • Approved racing gear.
  • Recording of any veterinary treatment.
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Stable Inspections

Stewards regularly conduct inspections at properties where racing animals are kept. Stewards can, at any time, come on to a property where racing animals are kept. Unannounced stable inspections are regularly carried out to check on racehorses. 

Prohibited Substance Control

In WA, the use of prohibited substances in racing is rare, with 99.8% of swabs returning a negative result. However, there continues to be a significant investment of $1 million annually in prohibited substance control for equine racing, with more than 7,500 swabs collected each year. Swabs can be collected both at the races and at trainer’s private properties. If a positive swab is detected, racing participants face severe penalties, including loss of livelihood. 

Racecourse Facilities and Racing Surfaces

Racecourses and racing surfaces are specifically designed and maintained for equine athletes. Racecourses are inspected prior to every race meeting to ensure it is safe and suitable for racing. The races will not go ahead if there are any concerns with the track.