Racing Australia
16 May 2016

Dear Breeder,

As you may know, Racing Australia is proposing to introduce new rules that will apply to foals and their owners. The proposed rules have generated much debate and requests from a number of breeders for more detail. We are responding now by listing the most commonly asked questions with the answers:

 1. What is Racing Australia?
Racing Australia is the organisation through which the eight State and Territory Principal Racing Authorities (PRAs) make national rules. Racing Australia also owns two national assets on behalf of the industry: Racing Information Services Australia (RISA) and the Australian Stud Book (ASB).

The Racing Australia Board is composed of senior representatives [usually the Chairman] of the State PRAs and is entirely accountable to the PRAs, which in turn report to their stakeholders and Governments. Racing Australia cannot act without the approval and support of the PRAs represented on the Board and cannot pass any new national rules without a 75% resolution.

This means that Racing Australia does not make or change rules on its own. An individual PRA can suggest additions or amendments to the Australian Rules of Racing which are then considered by the Racing Australia Board. Further, an individual PRA cannot introduce local rules that conflict with the national rules. Jurisdictionally, all rules are enforced by the State and Territory PRAs which employ Stewards, investigators and vets.  

2. What are the new rules?
Under the proposed changes, breeders will be required to: 

a. Register foals with the Stud Book within 30 days of birth, via the Mare Return, in the name of the actual legal or beneficial owners. At present only the “contact breeder’s” name is required in the Mare Return.

b. Register any transfer of ownership from the breeder. 

When each foal is registered with the Stud Book, the owner(s) will come under the Rules of Racing, just as they do now when a horse is registered for racing. If there is any application of the Rules of Racing, they will apply only to breeders who are owners. 

3. Why does Racing Australia believe these new rules are needed?
Two of the major challenges for racing in Australia and around the world at present are integrity and animal welfare.

As you would expect, integrity, and the level playing field it helps to ensure, are vital for the confidence of bloodstock investors, punters, and participants, as well as the wider community. It is also critically important that State Governments maintain a high level of confidence in the integrity of the sport and its administrative functions.

Animal welfare is a worldwide issue in the Thoroughbred industry with activist groups, the community at large and Governments now expecting a far higher standard of accountability than in the past. There has always been persistent pressure from welfare groups on issues such as the use of the whip, jumps racing, two-year-old racing and lately the export of horses to Asia. However, both the broader community and the Government expect the industry to set and maintain high standards of animal welfare.

We believe that the Thoroughbred industry can be proud of its efforts in respect of integrity and welfare. Whilst we have developed sound integrity and welfare rules, a large number of Thoroughbreds remain outside this framework, and are therefore not subject to any enforceable standard of care. It is primarily this group of horses, born but not yet registered for racing, which we seek to bring into the registration system.  

4. If the Rules of Racing apply from the time a foal is born, what will Stewards be able to do on stud and other breeding farms? 
The PRAs will establish policies to define what Stewards can and cannot do on breeding properties, yearling preparation and spelling farms and other properties where Thoroughbred horses are located.
These policies will allow Stewards to enter and exercise their powers on those properties only for the following purposes: 

a. The testing of a Thoroughbred racehorse (e.g. a spelling racehorse) for the presence of substances that are prohibited at any time under the Rules of Racing;

b. The testing of a young Thoroughbred horse (e.g. foals, weanlings and yearlings) for the presence of anabolic androgenic steroids;

c. The observation of other horses for health and welfare reasons only.

5. How can you be sure when you have either sold a horse or given it away that you no longer have any obligations for its welfare, etc?
When you transfer your ownership interest in a Thoroughbred horse (including for recreational purposes) to another person, you are discharged from your responsibilities for the horse if you have formally notified Racing Australia of the change of ownership by way of the appropriate transfer form and notified the new owner of those responsibilities.  

6. Will breeders be consulted about future rule changes that affect them?
Some people are worried that Racing Australia may in the future introduce rules that would result in unfair treatment of breeders. 

It should be noted that the Boards of the State PRAs must act in the best interests of the whole industry. In addition, under existing Racing Australia protocols, each Principal Racing Authority will consult with its State Breeders Association about any proposed amendment to the Rules of Racing that impacts breeders. That consultation will be done before Racing Australia considers any new rules. Further, as detailed above, any new rules require a 75% resolution.

The rules in question are the result of more than two years of discussion, negotiation and consultation and are intended to help us meet 21st century community expectations (see attached media release).

We believe that having a strong integrity and welfare regime for all sectors of the Thoroughbred industry from the time of a horse’s birth to its retirement will create confidence in the industry from a wider range of potential investors and help dispel any negative views of our industry.

Kind regards

John Messara AM
Racing Australia Ltd (ACN 105 994 330)