Horse Racing Welfare

Thank you for contacting me about the welfare of racehorses.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is the independent body responsible for regulating the sport of horseracing. It works closely with animal charities such as the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare to ensure that the highest of standards are upheld. As a consequence, Britain is regarded as having one of the best regulated racing environments across the world.

DEFRA has been in regular contact with the BHA about racehorse safety and ministers have met the BHA at the end of 2018. The BHA has since made 17 recommendations aimed at improving the welfare of racehorses, which I know DEFRA is keen to see made as quickly as possible.

A new horse welfare board was established earlier this year. In May, the Animal Welfare Minister met with the British Horseracing Authority CEO, its Director of Equine Health and Welfare, and the independent chair of the new Horse Welfare Board to discuss animal welfare and the future of the sport in England. In a constructive meeting, it was recognised that as the fatality rate in racing rose in 2018 for the first time in recent years and the Grand National in 2019 experienced its first fatality in seven years, both sides agreed that further action is required to make the sport safer and to improve animal welfare standards across the industry. The Board committed to doing all it can to make the sport safer and to improve welfare outcomes.

The Government will stay in regular contact with the industry and continue to press for improvements on welfare. While there is an element of risk with any sport, it is critical that the industry is doing all that it can to make the sport safer.