03 Mar 1998 Pre-2014 Releases

Jockey Club Veterinary Field Force Places Emphasis On Welfare

Published: 3 March 1998

Peter Webbon, the Jockey Club’s Chief Veterinary Adviser, outlined today the revised role of the Jockey Club’s Veterinary Field Force. The result is a noticeable change in emphasis from a veterinary team that is primarily involved in integrity matters to one that retains responsibility for integrity but is welfare and research driven.

Previously the first obligation of a Veterinary Officer was to safeguard integrity. This would include the checking of passports and verification of the identity of horses declared to run, the collection of post-race samples, and other duties which ensured that the Rules of Racing and the Jockey Club’s General Instructions were adhered to. These could be related to areas such as use of the whip, vaccinations, tack (e.g. application of tongue straps) and racecourse stable hygiene.

The increased emphasis on welfare and research will mean that in addition to their integrity work the Veterinary Officers will now be far more actively involved with the monitoring of horses and facilities on the racecourse. The new initiatives include the setting up and running of an efficient lameness and injury monitoring scheme and the analysis of all fatal and non-fatal racecourse injuries with the aim of using the information to minimise the risk factors which contribute to injuries.

Jockey Club Chief Veterinary Adviser, Peter Webbon, said today: “A primary concern for the Jockey Club has always been the safety and welfare of both horse and rider. We now have the ability and expertise to expand our role in relation to horse welfare and I am hopeful that these initiatives will be of considerable benefit to racing.”

Notes for Editors:

The role of the Jockey Club’s Veterinary Field Force is now defined as follows:

1. To safeguard the integrity of racing by verifying the identity of horses racing, taking post-race samples from approximately 10 per cent of all runners and playing a central role in the administration of the Rules and Instructions related to whip use, non-runners, vaccination, tack, shoeing etc. This function may include active involvement in any or all of the following exercises intended to improve integrity, namely;

  • the electronic identification of racehorses;
  • testing horses in training;
  • the investigation of positive post-race samples;
  • the introduction of pre-race testing.

    2. To monitor veterinary facilities and personnel, and the standards of their response and management of injuries, at all racecourses.

    3. To safeguard racehorse welfare. This involves:

  • ensuring that all injured horses are examined, and treated if necessary, before leaving the racecourse;
  • setting up and running an efficient lameness and injury monitoring scheme to ensure that horses do not return to racing prematurely;
  • recording all fatal and non-fatal racecourse injuries for subsequent statistical analysis;
  • arranging targeted, mandatory autopsies (initially of lower limb fractures) with a view to understanding and minimising the risk factors which contribute to fatal injuries;
  • investigating any complaints regarding the standard of management of horses in training;
  • investigating any complaints regarding the welfare of retired racehorses (or those said to be retired racehorses);
  • monitoring high standards of racecourse stable hygiene;
  • participating in the enforcement of the Rules and Instructions with welfare implications, for example, those related to misuse of the whip;
  • involvement in licensing applications and education for new trainers.

    4. To provide clinical veterinary expertise. This might be necessary, for example, as part of the existing racecourse veterinary team, when one of the Racecourse Veterinary Surgeons is occupied in dealing with an injured horse, and other horses have been injured in the same race, or before and after racing.