UK Racing Partners With HEROS To Expand Safety Net

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The HEROS facility in Oxfordshire | Horse Welfare Board

HEROS has become the new primary partner for British horseracing's official welfare charity, Retraining of Racehorses (RoR). The aftercare and retraining specialist centre in Oxfordshire will provide specialist care and support for horses at their first step out of racing beginning in August. The appointment marks an important milestone in the collective establishment of racing's responsibility, and an expansion of the industry's safety net, which has been led by The Horse Welfare Board and RoR. Established and led by Grace Muir, the HEROS charity has rehomed more than 700 ex-racehorses since starting operations in 2006 and has also built an impressive educational programme over the past seven years, backed by the Racing Foundation.

Barry Johnson, Chair of the Horse Welfare Board, said, “The Life Well Lived Strategy was created to ensure that during the whole lifetime of the Thoroughbred, all facets of its welfare are scrutinised and where possible improved. This new agreed definition of racing's responsibility means we can now expand the sport's safety net to ensure a smooth transition out of racing for any horse bred for racing. This is about providing a safe space for Thoroughbreds that may need additional support via an industry-backed organisation with first-class experience and facilities.”

Besides the appointment of the HEROS charity, the Horse Welfare Board has partnered with the University of Surrey, which is the team looking to develop and expand the use of a bespoke welfare assessment software tool–known as the Animal Welfare Assessment Grid (AWAG). Designed to be easily used on phones and laptops, AWAG will officially record a Thoroughbred's wellbeing on retirement, score its appropriateness for different uses, and flag up areas for development or of concern. A pilot study in the hands of selected trainers is now taking place with roll-out planned during the last quarter of 2022. The full Aftercare Funding Review can be found here.

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