A horse being hosed down after a race | Equine Welfare

$1 million added to VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) is proud to announce it will contribute $1 million to officially kick-start the VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund with new partnerships and projects to commence immediately.

The formal activation of the VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund will provide an ongoing vehicle for the Club to accelerate its equine welfare strategy as well as present an opportunity for anyone, including VRC members, patrons, sponsors and partners, wishing to directly contribute to the care of thoroughbreds during and post their career as racehorses.

The VRC is delighted to reveal it will use the Wellbeing Fund to elevate its current support of Living Legends with a significant financial commitment of $220,000 over the next three years. This long-term investment will guarantee former champion racehorses a home for life at Oaklands as well as provide support the farm needs to 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 is also excited to announce the Fund will build a new destination at Flemington Racecourse 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 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.

VRC Chairman Amanda Elliott said the Fund had been established through the support of Melbourne Cup Carnival racegoers and VRC members. 

“Horse welfare is, and absolutely should be, important to everyone, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries and geography. We were pleased to announce ahead of the 2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival our pledge of 10% of all public tickets sales for Cup Week and 5% of VRC annual membership fees would be redirected to establish the VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund,” Mrs Elliott said.

“Equine health and safety has been part of the Club’s philosophy for many years, and the VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund is going to assist in fast-tracking many of the initiatives we already have planned.

“As well as the things we do here at Flemington, we are very much supporting Racing Victoria and its comprehensive range of initiatives for the wellbeing of racehorses across all stages of their lives. A national traceability register, as well as the continuation of the rehoming program, are crucial parts of that.”

VRC Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson said the Club was pleased to share progress in the equine welfare space.

“It is comforting to know that as well as doing everything in our power to make sure racehorses are cared for during training and racing at Flemington, we are contributing to the post-racing lives of our former heroes at Living Legends, and we are pleased to also showcase Off The Track horses with a Racing Victoria-acknowledged retrainer at Flemington creating an opportunity for racegoers to get closer than ever to equine athletes while learning more about lifetime care for racehorses.”

The VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund comes in addition to improvements made by the Club over the past 24 months.

In the pre-racing space, the VRC has already 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 which has been commended for reducing impact on horses joints and therefore optimising the wellbeing of thoroughbreds in training. 

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 an automatic 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. 

Mr Wilson highlighted the importance of openly sharing information about equine wellbeing. 

“While the VRC is excited about the new initiatives the Club is currently developing, we want to use our position as an industry leader to shine a spotlight on the great work already being done by many within the industry to care for thoroughbreds during and post their racing careers,” Mr Wilson said. 

“The VRC will be publishing a regular bulletin that will better keep VRC members and the public informed about equine wellbeing initiatives and will follow the journey of retired racehorses.” 

Contributions to the VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund will be ongoing which will enable the Club to continue to provide a world-class experience for all equine athletes.