Race horse welfare - March 2020

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is the independent body responsible for regulating the sport of horseracing. It works closely with animal charities across the UK 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.

Ministers have been in regular contact with the BHA about racehorse safety. Most recently in May 2019, the then-Minister for Animal Welfare met with the British Horseracing Authority CEO, its Director of Equine Health and Welfare, and the independent chair of the new Horse Welfare Board. This was a constructive meeting where it was recognised that 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.

At this meeting, both sides agreed that further action is required to make the sport safer and to improve animal welfare standards across the industry. The Minister also stressed the need for the BHA, in conjunction with the Horse Welfare Board, to develop a robust action plan that will deliver tangible results.

The Government will stay in regular contact with the industry and continue to press for improvements on welfare.