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National thoroughbred welfare initiative announced

13 / 02 / 2020
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Key players in the thoroughbred racing industry have joined forces to create a new national horse welfare strategy.

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, the Australian Trainers’ Association and the Australian Jockeys’ Association, along with other stakeholders including trainer Chris Waller, announced the establishment of the new Independent Working Group on Saturday 7 February.

While Tasracing is yet to receive full detail in relation to the governance and scope of the new group, it is broadly supportive of the initiative.

Tasracing CEO Paul Eriksson said he welcomed the establishment of the group and hoped to engage with it to ensure its work was complementary of Tasracing’s work to date in this space.

Tasracing already places the welfare of racing animals in all three codes – thoroughbred, standardbred and greyhounds – at the core of all decision making and operations.

While the welfare of racing animals is a key focus of the company’s long-term corporate plan and day-to-day operations, a new welfare strategy is currently in development.

The new strategy will take the Off the Track program for thoroughbreds and standardbreds and Tasmania’s Greyhound Adoption Program and deliver enhanced welfare outcomes and improved data collection and reporting.

The new national group says it will review the current welfare landscape in Australia, look to world’s best practice, consult with participants in the industry and draw upon the learnings from other animal industries.

The group is chaired by former Victorian Premier Dr Denis Napthine and will focus on horses exiting the thoroughbred industry, whether as retired racehorses or unraced animals, through to end-of-life management.

In a statement, the group said its membership would be deliberately drawn from outside the racing and breeding industries to ensure independence and encourage exploration pf policy options outside current industry thinking.

The other panelists are RSPCA Australia chief science and strategy officer Dr Bidda Jones, Australian Veterinary Association director Dr Ken Jacobs and Jack Lake, a senior advisor on agriculture in the Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd Governments.

The work of the panel will be funded by industry participants, with commitment of resources from breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys, clubs and wagering operators.

A steering committee, which will include Waller, will sign off on the terms of reference for the IWG, which is expected to provide its recommendations later this year.

Further information on the new Thoroughbred Welfare Initiative Group can be found here: https://thoroughbredwelfareinitiative.org.au/

Further information on Tasracing’s current welfare strategy and initiatives can be found here:https://tasracingcorporate.com.au/corporate-responsibility/welfare/