Global Views With Lowri Allen

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In the coming months, Godolphin Flying Start trainees will provide insight into practices experienced and observations taken on their worldwide travels. Today, first-year trainee Lowri Allen shares her impressions of America's aftercare initiatives.

The Godolphin Flying Start Programme offers a unique opportunity to spend time working in and learning about the Thoroughbred industry in five major racing jurisdictions: Ireland, Britain, America, Australia and Dubai.

The 2019-2021 class of trainees are now in the third phase of the programme in Kentucky, having previously spent time in Kildare and Newmarket. Across all three locations so far, equine welfare is undoubtedly the most common topic of discussion. It is the area in which I believe the global Thoroughbred industry faces its biggest questions and challenges, but where there are also opportunities.

Wider societal change has led to calls for increased accountability and transparency across a range of welfare- related topics. Whether that is fatalities, the use of the whip, life before and after racing, as well the use of animals in sport and for entertainment more generally, racing has an opportunity to communicate the high standards of care that exist for Thoroughbreds globally and stay ahead of public opinion.

The aftercare of racehorses and the opportunities that exist for off-track Thoroughbreds that I've seen in America thus far have left a real impression.

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance is a non-profit organisation which accredits, inspects and awards grants to approved aftercare organisations to retrain, re-home and retire Thoroughbreds using industry wide funding. Their accreditation seal is recognised as the gold standard in Thoroughbred aftercare and there are 74 accredited organisations across the U.S, Canada and Puerto Rico. Since the TAA's inception in 2012, more than 10,300 horses have found a new home through an accredited organisation.

In order to facilitate the retraining of 10,300 horses, the TAA has paid out more than $17.2-million to accredited re-trainers. These funds are raised through organisations such as The Jockey Club, Breeders' Cup and the Keeneland Association as well as sales companies, horsemens' groups, stallion farms and racetracks. Thoroughbred aftercare in America is a great example of what can be achieved through industry-wide collaboration.

There is a wealth of good work in the three countries that we have visited so far: the British Horseracing Authority recently announced improvements to their aftercare procedures and a five-year welfare strategy which focusses on the ambition that every horse bred to race should lead–and be seen to lead–“a life well-lived.” Horse Racing Ireland recently appointed John Osborne as Director of Equine Welfare and Bloodstock, and have since established a new eight member body, Irish Equine Welfare Council, which will advise on equine welfare.

However, the approach to Thoroughbred aftercare shown by the American Thoroughbred industry is an example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

If the global Thoroughbred industry were able to take a similarly collaborative approach to tackling its common welfare challenges, I have no doubt that we would be better placed to showcase our excellent standards of equine welfare than if each country were to proceed independently.

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