9 January 2022

Canberra Racing Club exceeding horse welfare benchmarks

| Max O'Driscoll
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Horses at Thoroughbred Park

Canberra Racing is meeting and surpassing welfare targets, according to a new self-conducted report. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Canberra Racing Club has emerged as a national frontrunner in horse welfare, according to a recent Review into Equine Welfare.

The in-house review suggested Canberra Racing Club now has “some of the strongest local rules in Australia”, especially with its refusal to allow horses to end up in abattoirs or knackeries, and is “exceeding all benchmarks” when it comes to all in-training injuries and near-miss events.

Canberra Racing Club CEO Andrew Clark said the review proved that the racing club is on the right path as it attempts to become an industry leader.

“The horse is a central tenet of the industry. Our care for the horse is of paramount importance so it’s central to everything we do and we look forward to continuing that,” said Mr Clark.

The Racing Club was left with six recommendations relating to retirement, traceability and injury reporting.

“We’ll definitely be looking to implement all six recommendations. The first two recommendations require assistance from the ACT Government to enable us to implement those and we look forward to working with them on those two recommendations. The remainder the club will be looking to address and also working with Racing Australia on some of those as well,” said Mr Clark.

READ ALSO ACT Government firms commitment to Canberra racing ahead of new memorandum of understanding

Mr Clark said the upcoming renewal of the MoU has seen “fruitful negotiations” thus far, and the Canberra Racing Club is hopeful that they continue as the June expiration date of the current MoU draws near.

Animal welfare spokesperson for the ACT Greens Jo Clay was less optimistic with the objectivity of the review despite acknowledging that some recommendations looked promising.

“This report is an in-house industry review conducted on industry policies, procedures and functions, rather than an independent investigation of actual practices on the ground. Legitimate questions about animal welfare in the horse racing industry remain,” said Ms Clay.

“The ACT Greens look forward to discussing this industry review with the community and Thoroughbred Park. The ACT Greens continue to advocate for a national royal commission into cruelty and abuse in horse racing.”

An ACT Government spokesperson said that ensuring Canberra’s local racing industry was well-regulated and sustainable is essential moving forward.

“We recognise that the Canberra community has high expectations for safe and well-regulated racing in return for this public investment. We have started negotiations with the racing clubs on a new MoU and look forward to positive discussions,” the spokesperson said.

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