Horse and Hose

Updated Procedure for Racing in Hot Weather

Ahead of a forecast period of high temperatures across the state, Racing Victoria (RV) has moved to bolster its commitment to the health and wellbeing of its horses and participants with an updated Procedure for Racing in Hot Weather.

The updated Procedure will likely be enacted as soon as next week with high temperatures on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, the latter of which is scheduled to host seven race meetings across Victoria.

Importantly, the updated Procedure for Racing in Hot Weather addresses all race meetings conducted in Victoria for which the forecast temperature is 30 degrees and above, extending on the previous Procedure, which exclusively dealt with race meetings conducted at or above 35 degrees.

There are now clear and defined recommendations for host clubs and raceday officials engaged at race meetings where the official Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) forecast ambient temperature is between 30 and 34 degrees.

At race meetings for which the forecast ambient temperature is at or exceeds 35 degrees, a series of mandatory processes for RV’s Raceday Operations Department, Veterinary Department, Stewards, Clerks of the Course and the host race club are outlined in the Procedure for Racing in Hot Weather.

These measures, which are designed to minimise the effect of heat on both horses and humans, include the following:

  • Monitor temperature and weather conditions throughout the race meeting, including the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT);
  • Monitor the conditions of horses regularly throughout the race meeting in the raceday stalls, mounting yard and barriers;
  • Provision of additional on-course veterinarians to inspect horses and monitor post-race recovery;
  • Increased availability of ice and cold water in the raceday stalls and mounting yard;
  • Reducing the time horses are required to parade in the mounting yard prior to and post each race;
  • Amending start times for races to avoid the hottest period of the day; and
  • Transferring, postponing or abandoning a race meeting.

RV’s General Manager – Veterinary Services, Dr Grace Forbes, said that while horses generally coped well with heat, it was vital to enforce a strong industry procedure that prioritises their welfare.

“The health and wellbeing of our equine stars is of the highest priority to Racing Victoria and the updated Procedure for Racing in Hot Weather sets out clear and defined processes and responsibilities during these warmer months,” Forbes said.

“While horses generally cope well with heat and have effective cooling mechanisms of their own, it’s important that we put into place measures that minimise the chance of heat stress or associated health concerns.

“Additionally, it’s important that both our clubs and raceday staff are well aware of their responsibilities and what needs to be employed when the Procedure for Racing in Hot Weather is enacted.

The current forecast for Monday, 26 December and Tuesday, 27 December exceeds 30 degrees in most parts of Victoria and Forbes said it was likely RV would enact the Procedure for Racing in Hot Weather for many of the scheduled meetings across the state.

“Our Racing Operations Department are monitoring the forecast for Boxing Day and into next week and will continue to liaise with the Bureau of Meteorology and host clubs to determine what measures need to be taken to ensure the safe conduct of racing,” she said.

“With respect to Boxing Day, acceptances will be taken for all seven meetings with any decision about their status to be made on or before Saturday.”