Passport amnesty period launched by Weatherbys for thoroughbred owners as inaugural census reaches 4,500 submissions

01 Nov 2023 BHA Features Welfare

  • Weatherbys General Stud Book has launched a period of amnesty throughout November for owners of former racehorses needing to update their horse’s equine identification document (passport)
  • Throughout the month, owners will be able to update their horse’s passport without incurring the £32 administration fee
  • Initiative launched as Britain’s first ever Thoroughbred Census reaches 4,500 submissions 
  • Complete the Thoroughbred Census here
  • Change of ownership application form available to download from here
  • Launch video can be viewed here

Weatherbys General Stud Book has launched a period of amnesty throughout November, meaning the first 500 owners in need of updating their horse’s equine identification document (passport) can do so without incurring the £32 administration fee. The announcement comes as Britain’s inaugural Thoroughbred Census, launched by British Racing’s Horse Welfare Board in collaboration with research experts at Hartpury University, has reached a landmark of 4,500 submissions.

As the primary source of traceability for all thoroughbreds in Great Britain, new owners are required to update their horse’s passport within 30 days of new ownership. However, currently the compliance rate is estimated to be around 20%, meaning traceability of former racehorses becomes significantly reduced after their first step out of racing.

The Thoroughbred Census was introduced to improve the data bank on former racehorses and the lives they go on to lead, and to promote responsible ownership practices. So, in celebration of reaching 4,500 submissions, the amnesty period has been launched to encourage even more owners to update their passport when completing the census.

The period of amnesty starts on Wednesday 1 November 2023 and ends on Thursday 30 November 2023. In order for Weatherbys General Stud Book to waive the fee, owners will need to complete a paper change of ownership application form and send along with their passport. The amnesty is available for the first 500 applications from 1 November 2023. Change of ownership application form can be downloaded here, with more information on how to submit here.

Helena Flynn, Programme Director, Horse Welfare Board, said:

“The equine identification document (passport) amnesty is a significant moment in our continued efforts to improve the traceability of thoroughbreds in Great Britain, once retired from racing.

“The initial uptake of the Thoroughbred Census from owners across the country has been really positive, but the job is far from complete, and an industry-wide push is still required to promote and encourage owners of all former racehorses to participate. Whether a horse has been retired to a field or is an RoR champion, we want to know about them.”

Sharon O’Regan, General Manager, Weatherbys General Stud Book, said:

“Ensuring that all thoroughbreds go on to live happy and healthy lives after retiring from racing is a cause important to all of us within the sport. Since the start of the campaign we have already seen an uplift in people updating their passports which is fantastic.

“Whilst the ongoing cost of maintaining our systems and database is significant we do appreciate that paying for the change in ownership is perhaps a barrier for some. Therefore we hope that waiving this cost for a period of time to support the census initiative will make a difference and encourage even more thoroughbred owners to bring these details up to date. The more complete our database, the more confidence there will be when considering welfare matters around all thoroughbreds not just those currently racing or breeding.”

Eligibility criteria for equine identification document (passport) amnesty:

– The horse has formerly been registered with a British licensed trainer or has competed on a British racecourse.
– The owner has completed the 2023 Thoroughbred Census for the horse for which they are completing the change of ownership.
– Completed form and passport must be received by Weatherbys General Stud Book between 1 November 2023 and 30 November 2023.
– Horses with an FEI passport are NOT eligible to participate.
– Change of ownership for breeding purposes will NOT be eligible for the amnesty.
– Only the first 500 submissions will be eligible for the amnesty.

All owners of former racehorses are being asked to complete the Thoroughbred Census between 28 June – 31 December 2023, with the primary objective of helping to improve the traceability of thoroughbreds after they have been retired from racing. The census requests information on each horse’s passport number, microchip number, age, current residence, second career, and more to provide a robust view of the 2023 British retired racehorse population.

With improved data, British Racing and its aftercare charity, Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), can better support owners with access to educational resources and routes to compete if desired, as well as continue to build informed and helpful communities. Improved data at this stage of a thoroughbred’s life can also help the Horse Welfare Board and RoR improve and adapt welfare initiatives and will, most importantly, enable fast and effective contact in the event of an equine disease outbreak.

As a result of the campaign to date, Weatherbys General Stud Book has reported an increase of 44% in the number of equine identification document (passport) updates compared to this time last year.

The 2023 Thoroughbred Census can be completed online here, before closing on 31 December 2023. Completion of the census is not compulsory, but owners are strongly encouraged to join the community and participate. Full results will be reported during the first quarter of 2024.

Notes to editors:

1. Supporting images and assets can be downloaded from here.

2. For more information contact:

– Gabi Whitfield, Head of Welfare Communications, Great British Racing and Horse Welfare Board – [email protected], 07566 248172
– Saffy O’Keeffe, Communications Executive, Great British Racing and Horse Welfare Board – [email protected], 07580 112347