The “last resort” financial safety net was launched yesterday (14 October) by The Racehorse Owners Association and is being funded initially by The Racing Foundation.
Owners granted relief will have their horses’ fees met for a period of three months, enabling them to have some “breathing space” to decide the best future for the horse.
The Racehorse Relief Fund (RRF) is part of a package of measures proposed in April by the British Horseracing Authority and other racing bodies to help protect the industry from the impact of the pandemic.
A survey conducted at the time, to which 30% of trainers responded, suggested 77 owners were already struggling to pay for their horses. It was predicted that up to 1,500 animals could face abandonment — although this dramatic impact has not yet materialised.
Charlie Liverton, chief executive of the ROA, said:“This is about protecting horses and livelihoods. As the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis continue to crystallise it is clear that some owners will be financially affected and no longer able to sustain training fees.
“As a last resort, we hope that this fund will help horses, trainers and owners find a solution that meets the high standards of welfare we expect and provides some financial stability to training yards.”
Rob Hezel, chief executive of the Racing Foundation, added: “The Racing Foundation is proud to be supporting the RRF as the industry looks to minimise the hardship created by Covid-19 on its participants both human and equine.
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“Equine abandonment is a concern for the sport during this period given the massive financial impact of Covid-19. The fund will provide a vital safety net to protect horses and prevent welfare issues occurring.”
The fund will have strict eligibility criteria to identify that all other options have been explored and the horse is definitely no longer affordable.
Applications can be made by either the owner or trainer online at www.rrfund.co.uk and need to be supported by training and veterinary records.
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