• The Welfare of Racehorses

    30 July 2019

    Dear Constituent,

    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.

    I understand that the Minister for Animal Welfare, David Rutley, has been in regular contact with the BHA about racehorse safety. Shortly before Christmas he met BHA representatives to discuss their review into the Cheltenham Festival 2018, where seven racehorses were killed. The BHA has since made 17 recommendations aimed at improving the welfare of racehorses, which I know the Minister is keen to see made as quickly as possible.

    In May, the 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.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mel Stride MP

    MP for Central Devon