Stable return audit helps improve visibility of racehorses

Racing Victoria commenced a stable return audit a little over 12 months ago to identify active, spelling and transferred stable returns for horses that had not raced in the prior six months.

The purpose of the audit was to improve data standards, identify any gaps and help our efforts to have greater visibility of Victorian racehorses.

The audit identified 630 Victorian trainers had 3,396 horses listed as active, spelling or transferred that had not raced between June – November 2019.

As a result of the audit, RV received new data on 916 horses, highlighting the importance of owners and trainers maintaining up to date stable returns that truly reflect a horse's location and situation.

The audit was finalised in mid-2020, with the full data set being analysed throughout the latter stages of last year, ahead of the outcomes that have been formalised.

The audit provided RV with great insights into the Victorian training landscape and resulted in a number of key recommendations to address non-compliance, education in relation to rule requirements and the need for accurate record keeping. These are:

1. Compliance

Active horse location audit – throughout 2021 RV will conduct physical location audits of all horses which are listed as active with, or are actively training at, a Victorian licensed trainer’s licensed premises to validate the data by the horses being physically sighted and identified.

Ongoing monitoring – regular auditing and reviewing of stable return data will be built into licensing inspections, stable inspections and equine welfare visits.

Penalty structure – whilst a formal penalty rating hasn’t been implemented for non-compliance, fines can be issued to trainers on a case-by-case scenario for those who don’t maintain accurate stable returns.

Horses listed in the care of disqualified, suspended or unlicensed trainers – an audit of Victorian racehorses with unlicensed persons will be conducted to update the correct location of these horses in time for the 2021-22 racing season.

2. Education

Fully equip the industry to maintain accurate stable returns – RV will assist trainers and owners to be leaders in the Victorian racing industry’s responsibility to maintain visibility of every racehorse during and when it leaves the sport.

Regular updates – to support owners and trainers with their obligations, information and updates will appear in Inside Racing, the ATA trainers diary, and electronic channels such as email and SMS.

Mandatory learning course – all licensed Victorian participants are required to complete the equine welfare learning module, which includes information on the importance of visibility, as part of their licensing renewal.

Direct support and contact – RV’s equine welfare team is focused on growing its relationship with owners and trainers to provide direct ongoing support and guidance for anyone who needs a refresh on how to use Racing Australia's (RA) online system.

3. Transferred Status

Clarity on who is responsible for a horse – the ‘transferred’ status is being updated to ensure it is clear who the responsible person is for a horse.

System changes – following extensive consultation with racing and breeding stakeholders, RA has finalised the new traceability rules which will take effect on 1 May 2021. The introduction of the new rules will complement the Single National System upgrade RA is currently undertaking, which will ensure there is always a person accountable for a horse.

Taking responsibility - Managing owners are reminded that it is compulsory for them to notify RA if their horse has been retired from racing as they hold the primary responsibility for the horse at point of retirement.

4. Retired Horses Audit

An audit into horses with a ‘retired’ status  - this audit will involve contacting the retirement owner of the retired racehorse to confirm the current owner, location and status of the horse.

Commencement of the audit – the retired racehorse audit commenced in February 2021, to help improve the visibility of retired racehorse movements in Victoria.

These initiatives aim to help the Victorian racing industry ensure the appropriate care and safety is provided to all racehorses during their racing career and upon leaving the sport.

The stable return audit has been a valuable step in improving the visibility of all Victorian thoroughbred racehorses.

If you have any questions about the stable return audit or would like to speak with RV’s equine welfare team, please email or call 03 9258 4258.