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Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding: Racing Victoria

Every Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization doing good work in the horse world. Today we recognize Racing Victoria.

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On Monday, October 28, 2019, Racing Victoria announced a $25 million AUD plan dedicated to the welfare of Victorian Thoroughbreds, with an immediate focus on their post-racing wellbeing.

The aim of the commitment is to fund the first three years of an ongoing plan to accelerate and expand Racing Victoria’s Equine Strategic Welfare Plan.

“Our equine welfare strategic plan, which was released earlier this year after extensive industry consultation, is our blueprint for providing continuous improvement for racehorses before, during and after racing,” said Racing Victoria Chairman Brian Kruger.

Specifically, the $25 million AUD will go toward:

  • A statewide re-homing program that will take advantage of existing infrastructure to support retired Thoroughbreds transitioning into second careers or forever homes
  • Post-racing career options, which will include an expanded Off The Track Program to create more career opportunities for Thoroughbreds who have retired from racing
  • A statewide foster program to provide short to medium term support for Thoroughbreds in need
  • An advanced tracking system — more specifically, an Off The Track (OTT) database to register retiring Victorian Thoroughbreds to (at least) their first post-racing home and for as long as they remain part of the expanded OTT program, independent audits of the status of all Thoroughbred and broodmares and analysis of data on livestock sales
  • An in-house equine welfare task force dedicated to delivering programs that improve welfare outcomes for Victorian Thoroughbreds
  • Humane euthanasia administered by registered veterinarians for Thoroughbreds where this is considered the most appropriate outcome
  • A responsible breeding campaign led by Racing Australia and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia to reduce the number of Thoroughbreds that end up with no options

Racing Victoria didn’t stop at focusing on themselves. They called on all sectors of the racing industry, as well as those outside of racing with Thoroughbreds in their care, to step up and be accountable for treating Thoroughbreds as they should be treated, both in life and in death.

“There are many challenges to overcome, particularly when the racing industry has no jurisdiction or oversight of retired racehorses, however we are committed to making important steps in the interests of our equine stars and the sport more broadly,” added Kruger.

Further, Racing Victoria called on regulators across the country to ensure that animal welfare standards are being maintained and compliance strictly enforced in Australian knackeries and abattoirs. Racing Victoria expressed its expectation that anyone found in violation of the laws that govern knackeries and abattoirs will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The hope is that this will serve as a deterrent to those who do not take their animal welfare responsibilities seriously.

Supporting the outcomes of last week’s Racing Australia Equine Welfare Meeting, Racing Victoria also renewed its call for collaboration between the Federal and State Governments to develop a National Horse Traceability Database.

Kruger said, “This is not a job that can be done on our own. It requires industry commitment and ongoing support from Government and to that end we again implore the Federal Government to work with its state counterparts to fast track the introduction of a National Horse Traceability Register to assist our efforts.”

The minimum $25 million will be funded by an increased investment from Racing Victoria, a contribution from the Industry Sustainability Fund and an increase in the racing industry contribution from 1% to 2% of prize money.

“Importantly, those people attending the Melbourne Cup Carnival next week, be they VRC members or racing fans, can take comfort in the knowledge that a percentage of their admission ticket will help to fund future initiatives in the interests of the horse,” said. Kruger.

This commitment follows the recent joint $1.3 million AUD investment by Racing Victoria, the State Government and University of Melbourne to bring Australia’s first Standing Computed Tomography (CT) Scanner to Melbourne to assist in the early detection and prevention of serious injuries in Thoroughbred racehorses.

Kruger recognizes the importance of the racing industry in Victoria, stating, “Thoroughbred racing is a vital contributor to the state of Victoria, supporting 25,000 jobs and bringing together regional and rural communities. We want it to remain strong and viable for future generations and we will be working tirelessly to achieve that.”

Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.