10 Open Letter to the Canberra Community on Equine Welfare Not many workplaces are bustling in Canberra at 3.30am. At Thoroughbred Park that’s when the workday to care for 300 horses begins. It may be freezing, windy or foggy, regardless, the horse comes first. Trainers, Jockeys and Stablehands arrive prior to first light, as do the Track Supervisors, to ensure all is well with the facilities before the equine athletes start their day. With multiple tracks in use each morning and an equine pool, there are several daily processes that take place to ensure the welfare of both horse and human. Each morning stables will be visited by Veterinarians, Farriers, Horse Dentists and Equine Chiropractors. Like any elite athlete, equine athletes are provided with specialist services and the upmost of care. Their diet is strictly prepared and monitored, with their bedding cleaned daily. This athlete is among the most cared for and loved in the world. The Canberra Racing Club (The Club) prides itself on its approach to equine welfare and its ambition to be a leader in this space. The Club employs an Equine Welfare Officer to investigate any injuries and near miss events that occur during training, just as they occur with all elite athletes. In some cases, recommendations are made to alter regulations or infrastructure to improve safety and welfare. The Equine Welfare Officer visits all on-course stables to conduct quarterly audits and identify potential hazards to ensure the horse is kept as safe as possible. These processes are in addition to processes carried out by Racing Stewards and Veterinary Officers that provide further oversight of all Thoroughbred activities occurring within Thoroughbred Park. Thoroughbred Racing is a heavily regulated sport in Australia. In 2022, a Thoroughbred can be traced from being a newborn foal to its first home on retirement from racing. In 2021, the Club undertook a review into welfare where six recommendations were made. Two of the recommendations need the assistance of the ACT Government to implement. This would enable us to ensure we are industry leaders in equine welfare. The issue of not being able to trace a Thoroughbred beyond the first owner onwards throughout their retirement needs to be and indeed can be corrected. Often Thoroughbreds will be transferred or sold to persons with no connection to racing. The Club and Racing NSW have introduced Local Rules prohibiting a person from transporting a horse to a knackery or abattoir. There is a strongest of desires to ensure that no Thoroughbred finds itself transported to one of these facilities and there are serious penalties if they do. Since its introduction in March 2018, nobody in Canberra has breached this rule providing heartfelt comfort as the horse and its wellbeing is central to our existence. Whilst rules provide a strong base with which Racing Authorities can deal with racing participants, they have their limitations with respect to persons unconnected to racing. The Club is looking to work with the ACT Government to further the tracing of Thoroughbreds in the ACT well beyond retirement from racing and allowing access to retired Thoroughbreds to ensure they enjoy a long, happy and healthy life. It is hard to accept that we register our beloved Dogs and soon Cats with the Government and they can be traced at any point in time, yet a Thoroughbred does not require any registration with Government and is essentially viewed as livestock, not a much loved retired athlete.