Welfare initiatives to gain support

29 July 2021

As flagged at the NZTR Annual General Meeting last November, a 1% deduction will be applied to stakes to fund Thoroughbred welfare initiatives from 30 August 2021.

“Thoroughbred welfare is at the heart of what we do, and NZTR has been progressively rolling out initiatives to fulfil the industry’s collective obligation for the guardianship of our horses,” NZTR GM Welfare & Sustainability Martin Burns said.

“These initiatives are in addition to our standard welfare provisions - such as raceday procedures, plastic running rails and drug testing for example – and support and reinforce these high standards of welfare that our horses are provided in their day-to-day care,” he said.

One of the largest and most significant developments within welfare recently has been the establishment of a national fleet of eight Horse Ambulances.  This was achieved by the NZ Horse Ambulance Trust thanks to generous sponsorship and donations from key industry figures and organisations. 

While these ambulances are the most visible part of the industry’s welfare arsenal, the fleet requires operating costs of $175,000 per annum.

In addition to providing Thoroughbred’s contribution towards these operating costs, the 1% welfare levy will also be directed towards establishing a network of Acknowledged Retrainers and Off-Track Thoroughbred Education Clinics.

“We have already, in partnership with Beyond the Barriers NZ, conducted a small clinic to develop the criteria for these Acknowledged Retrainers and, subsequently have called for expressions of interest from those wishing to become an Acknowledged Retrainer,” Burns said.

“Once we have this network in place there will be on-going riding and owner education clinics for new Thoroughbred owners, and we will also roll out material around the feeding and care of OTTBs.”

“There is also a great deal of work being undertaken in the Traceability area, where we now have both human and equine Traceability Ambassadors to promote the fact that Thoroughbreds enjoy incredible post-racing careers,” he said.

The welfare fund will also be utilised in the research and education field, with support of research into Thoroughbred specific projects, such as work around catastrophic injury research currently being undertaken at Massey University.

“We will also be making use of past research in welfare content we share through our NZTR channels, for example the segment Dr Chris Rogers presented around two-year-old racing,” Burns said.

“This type of content will play a significant part of our welfare communications, along with recent ‘explainers’ we have online which introduce our Traceability Ambassador Amanda Pottinger, and where Equestrian Sport NZ representatives talk about TiES (Thoroughbreds in Equestrian Sport),” he said.

NZTR’s accountability for the Thoroughbred welfare budget and initiatives will be provided through quarterly updates covering the progress of welfare projects. The 2022 Annual Report will present full disclosure of the expenditure across the 2021-22 racing season.

“One per cent of a $15,000 race equates to $150 going towards these initiatives, we intend to be considered, transparent and accountable with how the money is spent,” Burns said.

The following graph is an indication as to how each dollar from the welfare levy might be applied to current initiatives:

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