New schemes to improve traceability of racehorses *H&H Plus*

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  • As the throughbred world strives for improved traceability of its equines throughout their lives, Weatherbys has announced its e-passport will go live to the UK and Irish thoroughbred market in 2021. H&H finds out more about the benefits it will offer...

    THOROUGHBRED owners are being urged to ensure their horses are correctly registered as the industry pushes to improve traceability.

    It is a legal requirement for the new owner of any horse to update its passport with the relevant passport-issuing authority (PIO) within 30 days of purchase.

    The racing industry is pushing for greater awareness and compliance of this, regardless of what a horse’s post-racing career is, or is hoped to be, as the industry tries to better understand what happens to thoroughbreds throughout their lives, before, during and after racing.

    Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) and Weatherbys both have plans to help improve traceability.

    On 24 September, Weatherbys announced it is more than two years into producing an e-passport, which will go live to the UK and Irish thoroughbred market in 2021.

    It is designed to provide “a single, secure platform for all regulatory and legislative requirements relating to identification, health, welfare, movement and ownership”. The digital document will also include stallion, mare and foal registration, pre- and post-racing vaccinations and medications, ownership updates and full identification details.

    The e-passport is also hoped to improve compliance with owners reporting horses’ death to the PIO, by making this easier.

    Weatherbys stud book director Simon Cooper told H&H elements of the technology are already in use, including functions around vaccinations and movement of horses that support Britain and Ireland’s “return to racing” protocols.

    Mr Cooper said the e-passport will ensure change of ownership is “not only easier, but more secure and accurate”.

    “This will require both the vendor and the buyer to submit, like change of ownership for a car. While the paper passport remains a legal requirement, these will be required to be sent to the PIO for verification of change of ownership,” he said.

    Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association CEO Claire Sheppard said the e-passport is central to a number of projects it is working on with Weatherbys.

    “The equine movement element of this technology was vital at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic as it was used to track the movement of thoroughbreds during the breeding season,” she said.

    RoR is urging all owners to ensure they comply with the legal requirement regarding updating ownership details and is also encouraging owners of horses who do not compete in its series to register with them for free, so it can help improve traceability of more thoroughbreds.

    One of the ideas RoR is looking at is implementing a search facility on its website, using information from its own database. The aim is to help horses’ previous owners and racing connections find out where they are now, and vice versa. The organisation is looking at GDPR-compliant ways of helping both sides get in touch with each other.

    British Horseracing Authority director of equine health and welfare David Sykes told H&H ensuring horses bred for racing can be traced across their entire lifespan is a key priority in the industry’s Horse Welfare Board strategy.

    “The systems in place to trace thoroughbreds are as advanced as for any sector of the horse population, but we are constantly working to improve the capture of relevant data to more accurately represent outcomes for retiring horses as part of our ongoing commitment to traceability,” said Mr Sykes, adding a simplified online process for retiring racehorses – a separate process to updating ownership details – was launched in February, designed to maximise traceability and improve data and understanding of how horses retire from racing.

    “This aims to make the process easy and simple to follow and assist owners in ensuring they meet their legal responsibilities, but we need their help to ensure this system is used as widely and comprehensively as possible.”

    H&H 1 October 2020


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