30 day foal notification to provide greater transparency and support British racing’s commitment to whole-life care for thoroughbreds

30 Nov 2017 BHA Features Disciplinary
  • From 1 January 2018 breeders are required to notify Weatherbys General Stud Book (GB) within 30 days of the birth of a foal bred for racing
  • Development will enable the BHA to trace the welfare and whereabouts of foals before they arrive in a registered training yard
  • Information gained will improve transparency and traceability around the care that breeders and owners provide to thoroughbreds at all stages of their lives

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced a major enhancement to its regulatory processes in the interests of providing greater transparency and information regarding the whereabouts of foals born to race in the sport, which will bring Great Britain in to line with international practice across many other major racing jurisdictions.

This development is also a declaration of intent by the British racing and breeding industries’ to enhance our already high animal welfare standards while still reflecting the relevant European Union (EU) legislation. This may be important in establishing future trading relationships and enabling horse movements across borders once the UK has exited the EU .

From 1 January 2018, it will be a requirement for breeders or owners to notify the birth of a foal within 30 days of its date of birth for all foals born in Great Britain. Previously the requirement had been that the foals need to be registered within 12 months of birth for anti-doping purposes.

This development will enable the BHA to trace the welfare and whereabouts of foals before they arrive in a registered training yard, and will enable it to record locations and monitor the welfare of unnamed horses.

Jamie Stier, Chief Regulatory Officer for the BHA, said:

“The information gained will improve transparency and traceability around the care that breeders and owners provide to thoroughbreds in the formative stages of their lives, and is critical to our industry upholding its commitment to leading on animal welfare standards.

“It will lead to increased accountability in both the racing and breeding industries, and support the BHA in delivering a welfare commitment to our horses which will now encompass their pre-racing lives, as well as their racing careers.”

In addition to the welfare benefits, the increased whereabouts information and access to horses at a younger age will add further support the BHA’s anti-doping policy.

An enhanced policy was introduced in March 2015, which included that foals must be registered within one year of birth for anti-doping purposes, with the intention of later phasing this to six months. The introduction of the 30 day notification has superseded this requirement.

Julian Richmond-Watson, Chairman of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA), said:

“The TBA is supportive of the introduction of the 30 day notification of the birth of foals, as it willensure the timely traceability of horses at all stages of their lives. This new system will ensure we are equivalent to the best amongst EU member countries, thus assisting us in our work to achieve a favourable outcome on the continuity of free movement of Thoroughbreds in Europe.

“The development will also further demonstrate breeders’ absolute commitment to the highest possible welfare standards. Effective systems to provide traceability are rightly seen as instrumental in dealing with infectious diseases, and in maintaining the high health status of British Thoroughbreds.

“The TBA has undergone extensive and lengthy consultation with the BHA to ensure the implementation of this important new system is proportionate and not a significant administrative or regulatory burden to breeders, and is at no cost.”

Notification of birth will be managed by breeders and owners through Weatherbys’ General Stud Book Online system, which will be operational from 22 January 2018. This can be completed at the same time as foal registration (which is a separate process) and will be on the same platform, cutting out any need for double entry.

There will be no additional fees for notification of birth if carried out within the 30 day window, though an ascending fee structure will be in place for any notifications made after the 30 days have elapsed.

Nick Craven, Communications Director for Weatherbys, said:

“Weatherbys fully appreciate the importance of the early notification of foaling and we have enhanced our recently developed on-line foal registration system to cater for this new requirement.

“Over 75% of British bred foals were registered online this year and the foal notification will be a seamless element of a process which is already working well for breeders.

“Naturally our Stud Book team will be available to assist breeders and happily answer any questions they may have.”


Notes to editors:

1. In 2016,  4,663 foals were bred in Great Britain.

2. More information will be available here.

3. As outlined above, the rule comes into effect from 1 January 2018. The General Stud Book notification system will be operational from Monday 22 January 2018. There is a 30 day window for notification so any foals born between 1-22 January 2018 can still be notified within the required window, but anyone unsure about this should contact The General Stud Book, whose website is www.weatherbysgsb.co.uk.

4. The BHA’s enhanced anti-doping policy, which was published in 2014 and included the original requirement to register foals within 12 months of birth, can be found here.