‘Ensuring no horse ever faces an uncertain future’: new plans for former racehorses unveiled

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  • Racing aftercare charity Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) has revealed a plan to establish training standards and launch an official retrainer approval scheme, and is seeking to massively increase funding.

    The news came as part of RoR’s 2024–2026 strategy, which also focuses on areas including traceability, finance, increasing demand for former racehorses and welfare. It follows a recommendation in the Horse Welfare Board’s 2021 aftercare funding review.

    The charity is aiming to have 40 approved retrainers by the end of 2026, who will be recognised “as leaders” in the field, all sharing initial horse assessment data with RoR.

    It also intends to collaborate with industry experts, retraining centres, coaches and vets to develop “good practice” guidelines to follow.

    RoR managing director David Catlow told H&H the intention is for the industry and equestrian community to “feel confident” whether they are seeking a retrainer for a horse coming out of racing, or looking to buy a former racehorse.

    “We have a pilot at the moment with a small number of retrainers where we’re looking at what sort of criteria we need to develop and assure,” he said. “It is something we’re developing.

    “This strategy is part of a journey; it won’t be delivered by the end of March, it is something that we want to continually improve. Ultimately, our mission is to safeguard the wellbeing of all former racehorses.”

    The strategy also sets out an intention to review the RoR’s existing vulnerable horse scheme, greatly expand its education offering, increase collaboration with licensed trainers and equestrian sporting bodies, and further improve traceability. It also seeks to “elevate industry funding by 10 times current levels” in the next three years, and triple its non-industry fundraising income.

    Mr Catlow said that a forum will take place on Wednesday (31 January) to discuss funding models, including who can contribute financially, so RoR can deliver the strategy “on behalf of the industry”.

    “We want the industry to adopt this strategy,” said Mr Catlow. “It is going to be important for the industry to step up to support it, because without the funding, we will be limited in what we’re able to achieve.”

    RoR board chairman Philip Freedman said: “At its core, this strategy clarifies RoR’s position as the leading provider of strategic support and direction of aftercare.

    “It is about ensuring that, through RoR’s activities and racing’s commitment to aftercare, no racehorse ever faces uncertainty or neglect once their racing days are over.

    “We look forward to collaborating with our stakeholders, members, and our external partners to deliver this strategy.”

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