Free passport updates for 500 owners of former racehorses

  • A passport amnesty has been announced for 500 owners of former racehorses who have completed the Thoroughbred Census.

    The census was launched earlier this year by British Racing’s Horse Welfare Board in collaboration with Hartpury University to help improve the data bank on former racehorses and the lives they go on to lead, and to promote “responsible ownership practices”.

    To celebrate the census receiving 4,500 submissions to date, Weatherbys General Stud Book has launched a period of amnesty throughout November for the first 500 owners who need to update their horse’s passport, meaning the usual £32 administration fee will be waived. To qualify for the amnesty, owners must have completed the census – and need to complete a paper change of ownership application form and send this to Weatherbys with their passport before 30 November.

    “The equine identification document (passport) amnesty is a significant moment in our continued efforts to improve the traceability of thoroughbreds in Great Britain, once retired from racing,” said Helena Flynn, the Horse Welfare Board programme director.

    “The initial uptake of the Thoroughbred Census from owners across the country has been really positive, but the job is far from complete, and an industry-wide push is still required to promote and encourage owners of all former racehorses to participate. Whether a horse has been retired to a field or is an Retraining of Racehorses champion, we want to know about them.”

    Weatherbys General Stud Book general manager Sharon O’Regan said that ensuring that all thoroughbreds go on to live “happy and healthy lives” after retiring from racing is “a cause important to all of us within the sport.”

    “Since the start of the campaign we have already seen an uplift in people updating their passports which is fantastic,” she said.

    “While the ongoing cost of maintaining our systems and database is significant we do appreciate that paying for the change in ownership is perhaps a barrier for some. Therefore we hope that waiving this cost for a period of time to support the census initiative will make a difference and encourage even more thoroughbred owners to bring these details up to date.

    “The more complete our database, the more confidence there will be when considering welfare matters around all thoroughbreds not just those currently racing or breeding.”

    A Weatherbys general stud book spokesman added that as a result of the campaign to date, the stud book has had a 44% increase in the number of passport updates compared to this time last year.

    Owners of former racehorses who have not completed the census are being encouraged to do so, before the 31 December deadline. The full results will be reported during the first quarter of 2023.

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