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VRC welcomes new equine welfare initiative

The Victoria Racing Club has welcomed another new stakeholder initiative on equine welfare, claiming such enterprise is building a strong momentum for industry action.

The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, in conjunction with the Australian Trainer’s Association and Australian Jockeys Association announced on Saturday that an Independent Working Group had been launched to deal with the issue of equine welfare with input from varying sides of the industry.

Only last October, the VRC announced a $1 million kick-off to its own Equine Wellbeing Fund and Racing Victoria is expected to shortly announce a new equine welfare advisory council with candidates to be presented to the board as early as next month.

But Wilson said all such initiatives are welcomed and indeed necessary to ensure proper management of equine welfare.

‘’I think we’re (VRC) taking a pretty clear view on this,’’ Wilson said. ‘’Anyone that is driving an initiative to make a difference and we can help it, we want to be part of it.

‘’There will be some that overlap and there will be some that won’t go forward and there will be some that will make a difference and I just think we have to get behind momentum here and some will argue that multiple parties are doing similar things well, these things will find their way but if no one is doing anything, nothing will happen.

‘’What you will see is it will create a bit more spirit in a few other areas to get moving on some things.

‘’If you are going to rely on one initiative to solve the problem, the risk you take there is balanced with the risk of multiple parties trying to do a similar thing, but if you look at the breeders’ initiative, they are coming with a very strong breeder’s lens.

‘’Our logic was, while it might overlap and while they might have other thoughts in mind, the focus on the breeding aspect is an important part of this way forward and I think that in the future, you’ll see a number of these initiatives will combine and the overlaps will be worked through.

‘’I think we have a role as the VRC being involved in a number of them to see that and drive that as best we can.

‘’There is another time for hierarchy and boundaries. We’ve just got to get on with some stuff.

‘’We’ve thrown our weight behind what RV are doing. We think they are doing a great job and there’s more to come.

‘’If people are going to push back on this stuff because it looks uncoordinated, well, when you’ve got to work on something of this magnitude, you need different angles coming in and we certainly support that and our job is to be at the table to make sure they don’t get off track wildly and they are moving the issue forward.’’

Wilson said he saw no problem with differing industry approaches to future equine welfare reforms.

‘’When we announced our Wellbeing Fund just leading up into the carnival, there were a number of stakeholders that we were working with to see who we can support,’’ he said.

‘’We’re obviously doing our own thing on track at Flemington but we are supporting Racing Victoria with their initiatives and, where it makes sense, we are providing financial support out of our fund and we are also working with other industry bodies such as the breeders’ association.

‘’In fact, we have been working with them for some time on some of their initiatives at the table with them and this announcement is the culmination of the work they have been doing.

‘’We’ve been talking with Tom (Reilly from the TBA) and the team for months as we have been with Racing Victoria on things they are doing as well.

‘’Our role has been to represent the club into that process because we believes clubs and industry bodies all have a role, so we’ve been part of the process and provide our input where possible and where appropriate, provide our financial support as well.’’