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Speech by TBA chief executive Tom Reilly

Ladies and gentlemen, firstly let me thank you for your attendance tonight for what is an important evening for breeders.

Ours is a pursuit that is stitched deeply into the fabric of Australia. 

Thoroughbreds came to these shores on the First Fleet and racing was first held well over 200 years ago.

In modern Australia, the thoroughbred business, across all its broad reach, supports 72,000 full time jobs, and generates more than $9 billion for the national economy.

But as many of you will be aware, the racing and breeding industries have been under intense scrutiny since the airing of an ABC investigation into the mistreatment of thoroughbreds last week.

The footage of that mistreatment was nothing short of appalling.

I, like every breeder, every owner, and every trainer who has seen that footage, was horrified.

What we saw was not the thoroughbred industry I know, where care and respect for the horse is paramount.

From the foaling staff that stay up through the night to help a mare deliver her young, to the yearling team who educate young horses, the strapper that wakes at 3am every morning to care for the racehorse, through to the retrainers who ensure our horses get a second opportunity to have a meaningful life after the track, there is a commitment to the welfare of the animal.

But we must address the issues raised by the ABC.

As an industry we will be judged by our response.

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia has called for the establishment of a welfare taskforce, a task force that must include independent experts.

We must look at this issue nationally and collaboratively.

We will need the input of the federal and state governments as well as all interested stakeholders.

As an industry we need to ensure the highest care for our horses and commit that every horse that leaves racing that can have a productive career has that opportunity.

As the chief executive of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia I can tell you that we are committed to this cause and we have the courage and determination to ensure we have an industry that we can all be proud of.

Thank you.