Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds are not allowed to race until they are at least two years old.
Two-year-old racehorses may race safely and without adverse long-term consequences. 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.
To view the full rules of racing please click here.
RWWA’s Racing Integrity Division plays a major part in ensuring the welfare of our racehorses, in terms of ensuring the prevention all methods or practices which might jeopardise the integrity of racing or place any negative effect on the welfare of our racing animals.
A sub-committee of the RWWA Board, titled the Integrity Assurance Committee (IAC) has primary oversight of RWWA’s functions that relate to:
The IAC is comprised by Directors who are not industry representatives or who otherwise have any professional, commercial or personal associations with the ownership or racing of animals. This ensures RWWA is able to discharge its specialised integrity functions in racing without conflicts of interests, perceived or otherwise arising.
Through the General Manager Racing Integrity, the Stewards report to the IAC which is chaired by RWWA Board Members who meet the above requirements.
RWWA is currently well advanced in the execution of its Integrity Strategic Plan to deliver the highest levels of confidence in the integrity of Western Australian racing product through the application of modern and effective approaches to stewarding and industry regulation.
Very few prohibited substances are detected from Western Australia’s racing animals, which is greatly aided by the level of system controls, such as the use of security personnel for key feature races who attend trainer’s premises in the period prior to racing, and the vigilance of all integrity personnel. Furthermore, RWWA continues to increase resources to drive expanded out of competition testing strategies.
RWWA has maintained its scale of drug analysis across all codes of racing. Pleasingly, although RWWA maintains one of the highest rates of testing in Australia, the rates of positives continue to be well below that of other commensurate jurisdictions. The scope of sampling, combined with a strong approach to penalties for breaches of associated rules, is central to maintain these good records.
The Integrity KPI’s as reported in RWWA Annual Reports, shows evidence of this sustained level of enviable performance and ‘clean’, well regulated industry across all codes of racing.
The housing, feeding and training of racehorses should be consistent with good horsemanship and must not compromise welfare. Any practices whether in stables, training or racing which are inconsistent with contemporary standards of husbandry are not tolerated.
RWWA’s Stewards also regularly visit licensed breeder’s and trainer’s premises to ensure that they are maintaining the highest level of care for the horses at all times. RWWA stewards are authorised to at any time enter the premises occupied by or under the control of a licensed person or any premises where Standardbred or Thoroughbred horses are kept, trained or raced. This ensures that the welfare of the horses is able to be constantly monitored.
Furthermore, racecourse accommodation for horses should be safe, hygienic, comfortable and well-ventilated. Fresh drinking water and washing-down water should always be available.
Racecourses and racing surfaces are designed and maintained to reduce risk factors which may lead to injuries. Furthermore, particular attention is paid to crossings, uneven racing surfaces and extremes of surface quality.
Prior to every race meeting conducted, the conditions of the racecourse are thoroughly inspected to ensure that it is safe and suitable for racing.
Race clubs that have regular races are required to have pre-season track inspections at least six to eight weeks prior to their first race meeting. Following these inspections a comprehensive report is submitted to RWWA’s General Manager Racing Integrity for review. Pre-season inspections allow sufficient time for any potential issues to be addressed to ensure that the track is in adequate condition for racing.
During Racing Season
In the week leading up to a race meeting, the relevant club representatives must be in close contact with the Stewards in relation to the current state of the track and upcoming weather conditions, and are required to complete the RWWA Race Day Report.
If there is any doubt surrounding the race meeting being able to proceed, such as rainfall, soft or bare patches on the track, reticulation issues, forecast of extreme weather conditions, or other unusual circumstance, the relevant club representative is required to contact RWWA Stewards immediately, from which a track inspection will be arranged as soon as possible.
In circumstances where the RWWA Stewards deem the track to be unsuitable for racing, the race meeting will either be postponed, abandoned or transferred to another racecourse.
A registered veterinarian must be in attendance on the racecourse at race meetings and official barrier trials, and any injured horses must be given appropriate first aid as soon as possible.
If a horse shows any signs of disease, lameness or other ailment prior to racing, a thorough veterinary examination is undertaken to determine its suitability to race. If the horse is not deemed to be fit to race, the horse is removed from the race. Furthermore, horses that are discovered to have severe or recurrent clinical conditions are temporarily or permanently excluded from racing depended on the severity of the condition.
If required, an injured horse will be transported to the nearest referral centre for further assessment and therapy.
In addition, all two year old horses and horses aged twelve years and older, are examined by the race day veterinarian as soon as they arrive on course to ascertain their suitability to race.
After any veterinary treatment, sufficient time is required to allow for recuperation before competition. Any medication given to horses is not allowed in any way to influence the racing performance of the horse or to conceal genetic or acquired conditions.
Any surgical procedure which threatens the welfare or safety of any horse or rider is also not allowed.
The use of the whip within Australian racing takes place within a regulatory framework contained within the Australian Rules of Racing which are set by the Australian Racing Board (ARB).
On the 1st of August 2009 the Australian Racing Board implemented a new rule outlining the use of whips in racing. Only padded whips of a design and specification approved by a panel appointed by the Australian Racing Board are to be carried by jockeys, be it in race conditions, trials, jump outs and track work. The design of these specific padded whips is so that they do not inflict pain or injury on the horse.
Furthermore, the Australian Rules of Racing have the following policies and initiatives in place help to protect both the welfare of horses, whilst also ensuring the viability of the racing industry:
To view the full rules regarding the use of whips please click here.
In December 2016, Harness Racing Australia (HRA) announced that the use of whips in training and racing would be banned from 1 September 2017.
The implementation of the ban from 1 September 2017 allows for a program of awareness, education, and research and monitoring to be undertaken across the industry.
The program will embrace the education of drivers and horses. It will also include a major research task to ensure safety is maintained when drivers do not have a whip to control unexpected horse movements.
Whips are often used as a controlling/safety mechanism, especially for when horses shy (leap sideways) or back up. Therefore the HRA is currently in consultation with drivers, trainers and animal welfare advocates to discuss the development of a tool, which would be able to be used to avoid or guide a horse out of a dangerous situation to itself, other horses, drivers or anyone nearby.
Western Australia is known for having a few days in summer that can reach extreme temperatures. However, generally most horses easily adjust to conditions of high heat and humidity. Furthermore, thoroughbred and harness races are conducted over relatively short distances, so maximal exertion in the heat only occurs for a short period.
Naturally, horses cool themselves efficiently by evaporative cooling. As sweat and water molecules evaporate from the skin these molecules absorb and remove body heat causing the horse to cool. However, sometimes if the temperature and humidity levels are both high this can slow the rate of transfer of heat from the horse’s body into the environment and cooling will be delayed.
Therefore, on days where the temperature and humidity levels are extreme, RWWA Stewards will activate the Hot Weather Policy, which observes the following:
Vehicles for the use of transporting racehorses are required to be safe, clean, well ventilated, regularly maintained and disinfected to reduce the risk of injury and disease when racehorses are transported. Respiratory problems can often be reduced if horses are able to lower their heads to ground level during rest periods. Long journeys should be planned carefully with horses provided regular rest periods and access to water.
MawSafe running rail fencing has been installed at all metropolitan, provincial and some country race tracks. The design of the horizontal PVC rail means it does not break on impact, instead flexing under the weight of the horse, which decreases the likelihood of serious injuries to horses and jockeys if a collision was to occur.
Breeding horses is a specialised activity, requiring extensive knowledge about the breed of horse itself and the different components of breeding, from inception right the way through until the weaning and early education stages.anc_Link1
The educating stage of a horse’s racing career is extremely important. When educating a horse, the aim is to develop a trusting relationship where the person and the horse have a mutual respect for one another.anc_Link2
Retired Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses adapt very well to alternative lifestyles, particularly equestrian activities.anc_Link3