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Nations should put their weight behind care for racehorses

Di Arbuthnot (second left): chief executive of the Retraining Of Racehorses was speaking in Washington
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All international horseracing jurisdictions have been urged to put their weight behind organisations that care for racehorses when they leave active service on the racecourse.

The plea came from Di Arbuthnot, chief executive of the BHA-backed Retraining of Racehorses, in her role as chairman of the recently founded and Godolphin-inspired International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses.

Speaking to delegates, including many representatives of worldwide racing authorities, at the Pan American Conference in Washington, she said: “We all have a shared responsibility for the welfare of racehorses, which extends beyond the track. Across the entire animal welfare debate, the spotlight is on an animal’s quality of life and the emerging concept of a life worth living.

“But IFAR’s objectives won’t work unless racing jurisdictions buy into them. Racing authorities need to understand this is a really important subject that has to be taken seriously. Every racing jurisdiction needs to have some form of aftercare programme.”

Arbuthnot added: “You cannot dismiss the extremists, and we have to work on public perception, because there are a lot of people out there questioning horseracing.

“The welfare of racehorses throughout their lifetime is one of the single greatest issues facing the racing industry worldwide, but the message can take a long time to get across. It’s taken us 15 years in Britain, but RoR is now serving as a template for other countries.”

Having been floated at a symposium in Kentucky in 2015, IFAR was formally established at a forum in Newmarket last year and Arbuthnot reported on discussions at its first conference, held to coincide with the second Pan American Conference.

She said: “Among the presentations were two from Japan and France, countries that weren’t even thinking about the subject when we first met in Kentucky, but they have made great strides.

“A key function of IFAR is to provide help and support by sharing expertise and good practice on a global basis, while recognising cultural differences.”

Racing authorities need to understand this is a really important subject that has to be taken seriously
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