We are a nation of animal lovers, and animal welfare has been one of my priorities since my election to Parliament.
The Government shares the public’s high regard for animal welfare, including the welfare of racehorses. The welfare needs of racehorses, both during their racing lives and afterwards, should be a priority for all those involved in the horseracing sector.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), British racing’s governing and regulatory body, is responsible for the safety of racehorses at British racecourses. The BHA works alongside the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare to make horseracing as safe as possible. Where there is an instance of the fatal injury of a horse when racing, this is reviewed by the BHA alongside the racecourse itself and other bodies.
More broadly, the racing industry’s independent Horse Welfare Board (HWB) was formed in 2019 and includes members from across the racing industry, veterinarians and animal health and welfare experts. The HWB set out a strategic plan to improve the welfare of horses before, during and after their racing careers in its 2020 publication ‘A Life Well Lived’. In this publication, the HWB recommended, among other things, that the penalties for the improper use of the whip be increased.
Officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) continue to engage with the sector to ensure that both the welfare of racehorses and reducing fatalities and injuries that result from racing remain at the forefront of the BHA’s priorities. Defra closely monitors how the industry responds to the HWB’s recommendations so that the welfare needs of all racehorses are met.
The BHA is responsible for the safety of racehorses at British racecourses. In relation to the irresponsible use of the whip, which is unacceptable, if the rules on the use of the whip in horseracing are breached then stewards review the ride and, if required, hand out penalties.