The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) is proud to be leading the way with the VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund which was officially launched in October 2019.
Kick-started with a contribution of $1 million, including 10 per cent of all public ticket sales from last year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival and five per cent of VRC annual membership fees, the fund is devoted to the care of racehorses across all stages of their lives.
Contributions to the VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund are ongoing which will enable the Club to continue to provide a world-class experience for all horses at Flemington and ensure that the VRC is recognised globally as one of the leading race clubs in this regard.
The VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund also bolsters the Club’s equine welfare strategy which has always been a priority of the Club and included a number of initiatives over the years.
In the pre-racing space, the VRC co-funded with the Victorian Government and Racing Victoria a $4.56 million state-of-the-art synthetic training surface designed to be more forgiving and comfortable. Since its completion the new surface has been commended for reducing the impact on horses’ joints and therefore optimising the wellbeing of thoroughbreds in training at Flemington.
During racing, every horse benefits from a world-leading racing surface. The VRC has invested in new technology including a moisture sensor analyser, to provide in-depth data on track composition, and sprinkler system to ensure a comfortable and safe racing surface can be prepared by the VRC team each and every race day and for key trials that occur on the main track.
In the post-racing space the VRC has elevated its support of Living Legends with a significant financial investment of $220,000 over the next three years. This long-term support will guarantee former champion racehorses a home for life at Woodlands Historic Park as well as provide the backing the farm needs to ensure it can continue the wonderful work it does to care for the industry’s retired equine stars and promote the great stories of the sport.
The Club will build a new destination at Flemington designed to showcase former racehorses and provide a platform for an interactive educational offering for patrons about thoroughbreds, life after racing and share the genuine love for the horse by the industry.
The new on-course hub will be exclusively designed to house two horses from Living Legends on Flemington race days, with capacity to also feature a former racehorse who has embarked on a new career via the Off The Track program and a Racing Victoria-acknowledged retrainer, who will be on hand to educate all interested patrons on horses’ careers post-racing.
The fund has also enabled the VRC to begin upgrades to its world-class facilities in order to better optimise post-race recovery. New cooling aids will be installed into the race day horse stalls and the Club is investigating ways to cool the tunnel which connects the horse stalls and the Mounting Yard. This investment comes on top of recent initiatives including the provision of ice-boots for all horses to use post-race, demister fans in the horse stalls and additional staff to help with hosing horses down in the Mounting Yard straight after their race.
With the introduction of the VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund, the Club appointed a Horse Wellbeing Officer to oversee the fund and more broadly its equine welfare initiatives. This includes working with the racing industry and all its stakeholders to ensure the substantial financial contribution of the fund will be used to improve equine welfare outcomes throughout the industry.
While events at Flemington will look very different in the near future due to the impact of COVID-19, the VRC’s focus on the health and care of all thoroughbreds continues to be a priority of the Club.