Skip to main content

Horse Racing: Animal Welfare

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 268342, tabled on 24 June 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the British Horseracing Authority's standards of regulation on horse welfare in British racing compared to other international racing jurisdictions.

Answered on

2 July 2019

The Government is keen that the welfare needs of racehorses are well met, both during their racing lives and afterwards. The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is responsible for the safety of racehorses at British racecourses and the BHA works alongside the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare to make horseracing as safe as possible.

The BHA has strong links to the international racing industry and was involved in establishing the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) Horse Welfare Committee.

The Government considers that the standards of regulation, veterinary provision and facilities and fixtures at British racecourses is good. However, both I and the BHA consider that more can be done to make horseracing safer which is why I have been holding regular discussions with the BHA about this. Most recently on the 14 May, I met the BHA as well as the new independent Chair of the BHA’s newly appointed Horse Welfare Board. This Board was formed in March 2019 and includes members from across the racing industry, veterinarians and animal health and welfare specialists. This was a constructive meeting where the number of fatalities of racehorses was acknowledged and both sides agreed that further action is required to tackle avoidable harm and make the sport safer.

The Board committed to doing all it can to improve welfare outcomes. I stressed the need for the BHA to develop a robust action plan that will deliver tangible results and intend to stay in regular contact with both the BHA and newly appointed Horse Welfare Board to continue to press for improvements in racehorse welfare.