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news Racehorse Aftercare charities join forces

16th May 2023
  • Racehorse Aftercare charities Treo Eile, Au-Delà Des Pistes & Retraining of Racehorses join forces to promote aftercare, establish best practices and push for advances in traceability and approaches to euthanasia

Ireland’s, France’s and Great Britain’s leading racehorse aftercare charities Treo Eile, Au-Delà Des Pistes and Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) gathered in Newmarket, May 4, with the aim of teaming up to move aftercare to the next stage in their respective countries. RoR Managing Director David Catlow, Au-Delà des Pistes executives Carole Desmetz and Mégane Martins and Vice President Alix Choppin, and Treo Eile executive Anne Connor and co-founder and director Caoimhe Doherty sat down with both Godolphin’s UK charities manager Penny Taylor and IFAR steering group member and Treo Eile co-director Diana Cooper, for a convivial and productive brainstorming session.

All three charities have proved incredibly efficient at establishing connections between racing and equestrian disciplines in order to provide increasingly diverse and secure outcomes for thoroughbreds as they embark on their second career following retirement from racing. Their respective brands have become household names in the industry and actively contribute to raising awareness about retrained racehorses’ versatility and outstanding athletic qualities for all equestrian sports.

The milestone gathering was intended to set up a collaborative base for best practice exchange and a lobbying force to push for transnational topics of welfare and aftercare to be addressed by Great Britain’s, Ireland’s and France’s racing authorities. All three charities specifically agreed to combine forces on four issues that were identified as obstacles to aftercare becoming increasingly embedded within racing’s objectives and commitments.

  • Lack of traceability of retired racehorses currently hinders racing’s capacity to account for a responsibility towards every horse that was produced for the purpose of racing, a commitment that we believe cannot be done away with.
  • Connected with traceability, “social license” was identified by all three charities as racing’s looming frontier and a challenge that our industries must face collectively and proactively. Thanks to its solid ties with equestrian sports and leisure riding communities, aftercare is in a strong position to be on the front line of this strategy.
  • Treo Eile, ADDP and RoR agree that all those who enjoy or benefit from racing should take both a moral and financial commitment towards the aftercare of racehorses.
  • Treo Eile, ADDP and RoR strongly believe that in order to gain perennial endorsement from society, both as a sport and as an industry, racing must address the thorny issue of euthanasia. Roly Owers, CEO of World Horse Welfare, delivered a powerful presentation on the subject in front of participants.

The next step of this tri-partite cooperation involves every charity meeting with their respective authorities and partners with a view to come up with a strategic plan for each subject. The next gathering is due to take place in France in the autumn.

Au-Delà Des Pistes Vice-President Alix Choppin commented: “Starting up collaboration with our British and Irish counterparts has been a long-term goal of ours and we are all thrilled that it has now materialized with the support of Godolphin and the International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses. Getting together with Caoimhe, David, Anne, Diana and Penny was first of all incredibly nice but also extremely heart-warming as we all seem to be facing similar challenges, both from within and outside the racing industry. Aftercare is a commitment that we owe to our wonderful horses as well as to society if racing is to continue thriving in attracting fans, racegoers, owners, bettors and media interest. We are now looking forward to working collaboratively with RoR and Treo Eile on topics that are key not only to aftercare development but to our industry as a whole, such as lifelong traceability, social accountability and euthanasia”.

David Catlow, Managing Director of RoR said “It was fantastic to spend a day with colleagues from Ireland and France to discuss the aftercare of racehorses. We are very grateful to Godolphin for facilitating the day and bringing us together, demonstrating their own deep commitment to the welfare of horses after they have retired from racing. Worldwide, there is increasing debate around the use of horses in sport and their welfare before, during and after racing. RoR, Treo Eile and Au-Dela Des Pistes already do a great deal for aftercare in our respective jurisdictions and with more support from the wider racing industry, we are ideally placed to build on what has already been achieved and give confidence that racehorses continue to enjoy a good life after racing”.

Caoimhe Doherty, co-founder and Director of Treo Eile noted: “With tripartite agreements in place for racing and breeding, it is a natural next step for England, France and Ireland to team up in their support for the aftercare of racehorses. We are very grateful for Godolphin’s drive and commitment to the support of racehorses after racing, which encapsulates their vision and hosting of the inaugural meeting of representatives from Retraining of Racehorses, Au-Delà Des Pistes and Treo Eile. The sharing of our journeys to-date highlighted common areas of progress and concern. Open conversations addressing the present issue of the ‘social licence’ relating to our sport, the participation and responsibility of our stakeholders were mutually beneficial, given the varying years our organisations have been in existence. We were very fortunate to avail of Roly Owers, CEO of World Equine Welfare, expertise when discussing the subject of euthanasia. The passion for the welfare of racehorses within each organisation was very evident, as was the positivity to work together to enhance our sector and the ongoing commitment by our respective industries”.

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