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Racing officials move to enhance welfare

Racing authorities have moved to strengthen rules regarding the re-homing of horses in a national approach to welfare.

Officials from the states and territories met in Sydney on Friday to identify ways to enhance Australia’s equine welfare programs.

The meeting, organised by Racing Australia, was prompted by last week’s ABC 7.30 report on the slaughter of racehorses at an abattoir in Caboolture in Queensland.

In NSW, owners are required to document where their horses go when they are retired but problems arise when they are moved on, some several times.

“People who work across the thoroughbred industry share the public’s outrage at the recently identified cruel and inhumane treatment of horses at a Queensland abattoir,” RA chairman Greg Nichols said.

“In 2016 Australian racing led the world with equine welfare reforms which ensured their authorities had oversight on the location of thoroughbreds from birth to retirement.

“Today’s meeting reaffirmed the industry’s commitment to building on those reforms.”

The session identified a number of immediate initiatives including:

* seeking national adoption of the prize money levy and introduction of a sales levy to help finance an expansion of national thoroughbred after care programs;

* further strengthening industry rules and penalties on the ownership, location and retirement destinations of thoroughbreds and committing resources to ensure compliance;

* working with governments to ensure the introduction of the National Traceability Register for all horses;

* upgrading racing’s technology platforms to simplify participants’ ability to comply with the industry’s equine welfare rules and make access to data more transparent and robust;

* promoting the thoroughbred industry’s welfare policies and practices.

Steve Wilson, chair of RA’s equine welfare committee said racing authorities wanted to work with federal, state and territory governments to achieve change and provide better outcomes for those horses that slip through the cracks.

Racing NSW and Racing Victoria already direct a percentage of prize money to welfare.

Racing NSW also owns a property at Capertee and one at Hawkesbury specifically for the retraining of retired racehorses while RV operates the Off The Track program also directed at retraining racehorses for other pursuits.

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