BHA responds to RTE documentary on animal abuse

The BHA aims to achieve 100% traceability.
The BHA aims to achieve 100% traceability.

The British Horseracing Authority has called for the introduction of a digital-only system for equine ID. 

UK.- The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has responded to a documentary that revealed cases of animal abuse in the sector. RTE InvestigatesHorses: Making A Killing included hidden-camera footage at the Irish equine abattoir in Straffan, County Kildare.

It said it was aware of issues involving illegal tampering with horse passports and reiterated its call for the introduction of a digital-only system for equine ID. It said it would make this a “core ask” for the next UK government.

The BHA said: “We share in the shock and dismay regarding the images of abhorrent abuse and malpractice from an abattoir in Ireland which was broadcast on RTÉ. Urgent steps must be taken by the appropriate bodies to improve standards for all horses sent to this facility, and sanctions imposed on anyone found to have committed illegal acts or broken regulatory requirements.”

The body reiterated its goal of achieving 100 per cent traceability of racehorses when they retire. In 2022, it introduced a rule for all racehorses in Great Britain to be signed out of the human and animal food chain.

It added: “For horses for whom euthanasia is required – which in some circumstances is the most humane outcome – we are here to help those responsible make difficult but timely decisions. 

“Our code of practice for euthanasia emphasises that horses must be allowed to retain their dignity to the end of their lives and if euthanasia is the only option, it should be performed at home or in suitable surroundings.

“British racing is open and transparent about the horses involved in our sport. Facts and information about the horses who are bred for racing, the lives they lead, and what happens when they leave the sport, including how they are supported by the sport’s dedicated aftercare charity Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), can be found on” 

Change in leadership at the BHA

Last week, the BHA announced that Julie Harrington will leave her position as CEO of the governing body at the end of this year. She will have completed four years in the position, having replaced Nick Rust in 2020. Rust now chairs the Gambling Commission’s Industry Forum.

Harrington, formerly chief executive of UK Cycling, led the BHA through a period that saw significant changes, from the relaunch of racing after the Covid-19 pandemic to organisational restructuring and strategic direction and regulatory developments. The BHA was highly critical of the government’s proposal for financial risk checks for online gambling.

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