A number of constituents have contacted me about Race Horse Welfare and an independent welfare regulator.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is the independent body responsible for regulating the sport of horseracing. The BHA works closely with animal charities like the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare to ensure that the highest of standards are upheld. As a consequence, Britain is regarded as having one of the best regulated racing environments across the world. I am not aware of any current plans to replace the BHA’s welfare role with a new body.
It is always upsetting to hear about the death of a horse during a race, however I am assured that the BHA has a number of policies to ensure that racing is as safe as possible for horses. Policies include not licencing any racecourse in the UK which is not welfare approved, ensuring all races have veterinary surgeons on hand to administer treatment and investigating any course showing an increase in fatalities. It is encouraging that over the last 20 years horse fatalities during races have fallen by a third, to 0.2 per cent of runners.
Concern about life after racing for racehorses is understandable. The Retraining of Racehorses is the official charity dealing with the welfare of retired racehorses. It raises funds through regulatory and licence fees from racing, as well as from donations. They run a nationwide programme to find new homes and roles for horses, which include other recreational activities.
In a recent debate David Rutley MP, Minister for Animal Welfare said:
“The Government welcome all the work the BHA has done, and continues to do, for the safety of horses and riders and as a functioning and transparent body, which has the key responsibility in this area. With the work the BHA has done to further reduce the number of fatalities at racetracks, the Government do not see a need to take a different approach by creating a new body, as was set out in the initial response to the e-petition. That does not mean that the BHA should not continue to be held to account. It should continue to have to explain what it does in an open and transparent way, as has been set out clearly in this debate.”