RWWA welcomes thoroughbred horse welfare report


Racing and Wagering Western Australia — the State-appointed regulator of racing — welcomes a report examining thoroughbred horse welfare across Australia.

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group’s (TAWWG) report, an industry group including breeders, trainers, jockeys, and owners, consulted industry and other stakeholders about the effectiveness of welfare arrangements.

It made several recommendations related to national standards for thoroughbred horse welfare.

RWWA Chief Executive Officer Ian Edwards said the wellbeing of all racing animals across the codes of thoroughbred, harness, and greyhound racing was a key priority for RWWA, and the organisation supported the intent of the TAWWG report.

“Any efforts to improve the wellbeing of racing animals is welcomed and RWWA will review all recommendations from the report to understand where improvements can be made to existing welfare standards,” Ian said.

“RWWA has already implemented many of the recommendations in the report and has been working with the Department of Industry and Regional Development to develop standards and guidelines for the health and welfare of all horses in WA – not just thoroughbreds.”

In WA, $5.8 million is set aside for animal welfare initiatives for the current racing season, which includes 1% of all prizemoney on all WA races.

Through improvements in traceability, RWWA knows that 795 thoroughbred and 363 standardbred horses were reported as retired or rehomed in 2020/21. This tracing system is being constantly refined and improved.

RWWA has established the Off the Track WA Retraining Program, which encompasses a network of retrainers who work to provide retired racehorses with the necessary skills and experiences needed to transition from racing to pleasure or performance horses.

In 2020/21, 70 thoroughbred and standardbred horses were accepted into the retraining program, and 299 horses and 287 riders participated in Off the Track WA clinics.

A total of 2180 (375 standardbred and 1805 thoroughbred) horses were registered for an Off the Track WA Passport in FY20. Launched in August 2020, the OTTWA Passport is an initiative designed to assist in tracing retired racehorses in WA by connecting with their owners to gain a better understanding of their locations and lives after racing.

Ian said racing in WA was subject to stringent welfare and integrity controls, which were regulated by RWWA.

“RWWA cares about racing animals, and we are committed to ensuring their wellbeing, every day,” Ian said.

“The Rules of Racing regulate the actions of all people within the industry and include rules on the care and treatment of thoroughbreds. These are imposed by stewards who have the power to strictly enforce the rules, on and off the track.”

A WA Racehorse Welfare Plan was announced in November 2019, with a specific focus on the areas of traceability, rehoming and responsible end-of-life management that are not suitable for rehoming.