The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) is taking positive steps to address equine welfare concerns by establishing the VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund, kick-started with a contribution of more than $1 million.
The VRC has confirmed that 10% of all public ticket sales for this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival, and 5% of VRC annual membership fees will be redirected to the VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund for the care of racehorses.
VRC Chairman Amanda Elliott and VRC Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson announced the initiative, effective immediately, will enable the acceleration of more of the VRC’s plans to support the wellbeing of racehorses across all stages of their lives.
"We want everyone to know that we are absolutely committed to the wellbeing of racehorses both on and off the track," Mrs Elliott said.
"We fully endorse and commend the announcement made today by Racing Victoria (RV) of the investment of $25 million to support the fast-tracking of the industry’s off-the-track initiatives. We are pleased to support the industry with our own substantial fund.
"We know our sponsors, members and the thousands of people who enjoy the Melbourne Cup Carnival all have a genuine concern for the care of our horses.
"Many of our stakeholders and partners are looking for ways to contribute to their wellbeing and this action taken by the VRC facilitates a direct and substantial contribution by everyone.
"The VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund will support that on an ongoing basis.
"The VRC Board has unanimously endorsed this important and meaningful initiative and I thank them sincerely for that."
Mr Wilson said: "This significant boost in funding through the VRC's Equine Wellbeing Fund shows that we are in lock-step with RV in taking firm action to address the issue of equine welfare in a demonstrable way.
"In addition, we have appointed a Horse Wellbeing Officer to oversee our fast-tracked horse wellbeing initiatives and to work with the industry and all its stakeholders to ensure that this substantial financial contribution will be used to address the need for improved equine welfare practices."
Mrs Elliott and Mr Wilson said that they had been overwhelmed by the positive response when announcing this initiative internally and to the VRC’s partners prior to making the news public.
Equine welfare is a key pillar of the VRC’s strategy with a number of initiatives already established. Contributions to the new fund will be ongoing which will enable the Club to continue to provide a world-class experience for all equine athletes and ensure that the VRC is recognised globally as one of the leading race clubs in this regard.