The British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) Senior Veterinary Adviser Anthony Stirk received an award for outstanding veterinary achievement at the 29th Animal Health Trust (AHT) UK Equestrian Awards Dinner at the Marriott Grosvenor Square on Tuesday night.
The award, named in honour of Dr Reginald Wooldridge who founded the first Veterinary Education trust in 1942, recognises a sustained and exemplary contribution to the work and understanding of equine vets.
The ceremony was held by the AHT and welcomed professional riders, equine vets and horse welfare specialists to celebrate their achievements and those of the AHT, who have worked over the last 75 years to try and improve the health and welfare of all equine.
The awards were presented by the AHT’s President HRH The Princess Royal.
The Animal Health Trust said:
“The judges have decided to award the outstanding veterinary achievement award to a person whose career has been dedicated to improving welfare of racing thoroughbreds, Anthony Stirk – His input has been fundamental to the success of the UK’s various racing authorities’ fatal and long-term injury programmes.
“He began collecting and computerizing fatality data with Weatherbys in 1999 and subsequently introduced a parallel system for recording long-term injuries.
By ensuring that data has been collected rigorously ever since, it has been possible to introduce practical solutions to enable racecourses and race planners to reduce risk on the basis of evidence rather than speculation.
As a direct consequence, racing fatalities have been reduced by one third in the last 20 years.”
Anthony Stirk said:
“I feel a bit like Aidan O’Brien must after one of his group 1 successes, though I somehow doubt I will achieve another 25! Anyway, like him, I must stress I’ve had the cooperation and support of a wide range of people in the racing industry.
“BHA staff, racecourse vets, racecourse management, trainers, jockeys, and stable staff (particularly stable staff). It’s a team effort; my thanks to all of them and I hope they feel they share in this.
“Hopefully the progress in injury reduction on the racecourse will continue, and that we will be able to extend our understanding of the risk factors involved in injury to the in-training area.”
David Sykes, Director of Equine Health and Welfare at the BHA, said: “This is a truly deserved award for Anthony.
In my short time at the BHA, I’ve witnessed his drive and work to improve the environment and conditions of our sport’s superstars first hand, and I am thrilled that this has been appropriately recognised by the wider equine community.”
Notes to editors:
1. Anthony Stirk, 72, has worked for the Governing and Regulatory body for British Horseracing since 1997.
2. You can find out more about the AHT’s Awards here.