Key Focus Points

2YO Racing
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.
Jumps Racing
Horses that are trained to jump have prolonged racing careers and are very well cared for by their trainers. They are also much sought after for future careers in other equine sports. Racing Victoria seeks to make jumps racing as safe as possible. Jumps racing in Victoria has made a dramatic improvement in recent years thanks to a series of safety enhancements including new jumps, tougher qualifying conditions, better education programs and improved riding policies.
Some of the initiatives introduced and managed by Racing Victoria include:
  • An expert Jumps Review Panel that approves horses to compete in jumping races and reviews all jumps races and trials to assess and provide comments on the performance of each horse. The Jumps Review Panel take the following points into account when qualifying a horse;
    • Competitiveness
    • Jumping ability
    • Performance in trials
    • Fitness and overall condition
    • Any other factors the Panel considers relevant in its discretion.
  • Training programs are provided for jockeys and trainers of jumps horses, with riders encouraged to ease horses out of races that are fatiguing or appear to be struggling for whatever reason out of the race.
  • Pre-race veterinary inspections of all horses are performed by experienced RV veterinarians prior to every jumps race to ensure that horses are in a suitable veterinary condition to take part in the race.
  • Comprehensive statistical reports of falls from each race meeting are compiled and used to identify preventable risk factors, such as individual obstacles which may pose a problem.
  • The design of all racecourse obstacles to be compliant with the specifications of the Obstacle Working Group, which includes jumping riders and trainers.
  • All hurdles and fences are regularly maintained and installed by trained personnel.
  • Racecourses and obstacles are inspected for safety prior to each race meeting.
  • Qualifying conditions are enforced by stewards to ensure all horses competing in jumping races are fit and skilled enough to do so.
  • Comprehensive post-mortem examinations are performed on all horses that suffer fatal injuries during jumps racing.
Racing in Hot Weather

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  Low
 28.0 – 31.9 (inclusive)  Moderate
 Above 32.0  High
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.

Questions?

Please direct any questions on RV’s approach to hot weather conditions to information@racingvictoria.net.au.

The use of Whips

Racing Victoria has publicly outlined 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 has 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.