Two-year-old thoroughbreds may race safely and without adverse long-term consequences. In fact, scientific evidence shows that when the training and racing of young horses is managed carefully, early training and racing is actually beneficial for a horse’s future racing resilience.
However, training and racing regimes must be sympathetic to the developmental and physiological adaptive processes of the young horse.
Victorian racing is structured to be sympathetic to young horses, with no two-year-old races programmed before 25 September each season and no more than 20 two-year-old races conducted in the first three months of the season (25 September – 31 December). This allows adequate time for rest, recovery and musculoskeletal adaption.
Race distances are also capped, with no two-year-old event in Victoria programmed over 1800m.
Racing Victoria maintains comprehensive racing injury statistics that are used to design and implement injury prevention and mitigation measures and also to identify areas for further scientific research.
The safety and welfare of jockeys and horses is the paramount concern for Racing Victoria Limited (RV) in assessing whether a race meeting or an official trial should proceed, be postponed to another day, or be abandoned in hot weather conditions.
“Hot Weather Conditions” are assessed in the reasonable determination of RV with reference to various factors, including but not limited to, ambient temperature, humidity, air movement and the preceding weather conditions.
Hot Weather Conditions identified in advance of a race meeting or official trial
RV monitors for potential hot weather conditions in advance of race meetings and official trials and, where hot weather conditions may be present, will review whether the start time of the meeting or trial should be modified, or the races or race meeting should be postponed to another day, or abandoned referable to the information known at that time.
Where a decision is made to modify the start time, or postpone to another day, or abandon a race meeting or official trial, this will be communicated by RV to all participants through a media release or such other medium as determined to be appropriate by RV.
Hot Weather Conditions identified on the day of a race meeting or official trial
RV refers to the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT), a system using ambient temperature, radiant heat, humidity and air movement (breeze) to calculate a safety index for physical exertion. WBGT is commonly used by sporting organisations when assessing the level of heat stress.
RV routinely measures the WBGT on racecourses where hot weather conditions may be present and applies the following scientifically validated scale for assessing the safety of racing:
| WBGT index rating
|| Risk Level Presented
| Below 28.0
| 28.0 – 31.9 (inclusive)
| Above 32.0
The RV Stewards, supported by RV official racing veterinarians (ORVs
) monitor the WBGT and will give consideration to delaying or abandoning a race meeting or official trial where the Risk Level presented is Moderate or High.
Other factors considered on race day
In addition to the WBGT, RV reviews the following participant and equine welfare factors on race day:
- individual horse factors;
- participant welfare factors;
- transport distances;
- racecourse facilities and micro-climate;
- distance of the race(s); and
- time of year and opportunity for horses to adapt to hot weather conditions.
RV’s ORVs are experienced in assessing the risks of heat stress and consistently monitor the weather conditions and the recovery of horses carefully during race days. Qualified raceday medical staff are also in attendance to monitor participant welfare factors.
Review of approach to how it handles hot weather conditions
RV reviews its approach to hot weather conditions on a regular basis.
Extreme weather conditions
RV has separate procedures in place addressing Extreme Weather conditions, including but not limited to fire danger, air quality (smoke), lightning and strong winds.
Please direct any questions on RV’s approach to hot weather conditions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
RV outlined publicly in September 2020 its belief that the current national whip rules are no longer appropriate. RV believes that whip reform is essential if racing is to retain its existing audiences and, importantly, ensure that it is attractive for the fans and employees of tomorrow.
RV stated that it will always support the carrying of a whip by jockeys on safety grounds and that the industry’s immediate priority should be reducing its maximum permitted usage to between five and eight times per race in line with many other leading international jurisdictions.
RV formally tabled its position at last month’s Racing Australia (RA) Board meeting where it also reaffirmed that it is a willing and active participant in the review of the national whip rules being undertaken by RA’s Riding Advisory Protocols Panel.
It is RV’s hope and expectation that the RA review will be well advanced within the first quarter of 2021 and that meaningful progress can be realised.
In the meantime, RV will continue to engage with industry stakeholder groups and racing customers on the important subject of whip reform, which will include exploring ways to obtain insights into the potential impact of RV’s recommended reduction in whip use.