As we are all too aware, the impacts of Coronavirus has meant 2020 has been a challenging year. Whether it has been maintaining a business in lockdown, being prevented from seeing family and friends or the stress of the economic uncertainty, there have been more reasons for people to feel anxious than before.
To help farm owners and managers of staff better deal with the challenge of mental health, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia has set up a webinar with mental health educator Pippa Baker. Pippa is known to TBA as she delivers mental health first aid training to our Fast Track students each year.
Pippa will provide some easy steps for supporting staff over the next few months (especially leading into Christmas), and some general tips on fostering good mental health within your team.
There are two session times to choose from: Monday 30th November 5pm (AEDT) orTuesday 8th December 4pm (AEDT) and you can register for your preferred day by registering here:
Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) encourages all breeders sending mares interstate for the coming season to consider their transport plans well ahead of any movements.
TBA has been liaising with state and federal authorities and all governments have stated that breeding remains an essential agricultural activity. As such, thoroughbreds can be moved interstate.
However, anybody transporting horses will need an appropriate border permit for the states they are travelling to and from.
“The message from state governments has been very clear; that breeding is an essential activity and moving a mare between states to be covered is also an essential operational activity,” says Tom Reilly, TBA’s chief executive.
“But I would urge breeders, especially if they are moving horses themselves rather than using a transport company, to look at the application process for the permit they will need to travel and return from interstate.”
These permits often come with restrictions and each person travelling with a horse will need their own documentation and to carry identification.
For example, those travelling from Victoria to NSW will be required to keep a log of their movements while in their home state and then need to self isolate when in NSW. Those travelling into Queensland will also be required to remain isolated from the general public and keep records of where they have been.
In addition to having a valid border permit, TBA recommends that any farm worker moving horses across state boundaries carries a letter from their employer stating that they are carrying out an essential agricultural activity.
“While border permits are essential, I believe that if farm staff also carry a letter stating that they are an employee and that they are carrying out an essential agricultural activity it may avoid delays or confusion at borders,” added Reilly.
“The situation with borders has obviously changed a number of times in recent weeks, so I think having a letter can only help when travelling between jurisdictions.”
TBA suggests a simple short letter that states the person travelling the horse is an employee and they are moving the mare to be covered as part of essential agricultural activity. It should also be dated and have the contact details of the employer farm.
TBA is in ongoing dialogue with state and federal governments and will send out further updates when they are available.
Those breeders wanting to know more about how to apply for travel permits should go to the following sites:
To assist those wanting to engage with the panel, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Group (TAWWG) have developed an issues paper, which you can download by clicking on the thumbnail below.
The issues paper can be summarised as raising seven areas of interest:
· What is good welfare · Thoroughbred breeding · Traceability · Programs for horses leaving racing and breeding · Regulatory framework · Humane processing of horses · Research and Development
Also included in the document are the Terms of Reference.
These submissions will feed into the panel’s report, due for publication later this year, which will make practical recommendations to assist the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries in improving welfare outcomes.
The deadline for submissions is July 24, 2020. The TAWWG are keen to hear from all of those who are interested in this issue.
If individuals or groups have an idea to share, it is recommended to download and read the issues paper and then follow the instructions on how to make a submission.
The independent welfare panel that was set up by the thoroughbred industry earlier this year, and is chaired by former Victorian Premier Dr Denis Napthine, is calling for submissions from interested parties to assist its aim of improving the welfare of horses leaving the racing and breeding industries.
From today until 12pm on Friday, July 24 2020, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group (TAWWG) is seeking submissions from any groups or individuals who wish to have their say on the best methods of protecting the health and wellbeing of all thoroughbred horses, most notably those exiting the racing and breeding industry.
These submissions will feed into the panel’s report, due for publication later this year, which will make practical recommendations to assist the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries in improving welfare outcomes.
The four-person panel, which was formed by Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) in conjunction with a host of industry stakeholders including the Australian Trainers’ Association and Australian Jockeys’ Association, is made up of Dr Napthine, who also previously served as Victoria’s Minister for Racing and is a qualified veterinarian; Dr Ken Jacobs, a former director of the Australian Veterinary Association; Dr Bidda Jones, Chief Science and Strategy Officer for RSPCA Australia; and Jack Lake, a senior advisor on agricultural policy in the governments led by former prime ministers Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd.
As well as taking written submissions, the TAWWG will also aim to meet with a range of stakeholders from both inside and outside the racing and breeding industries, including animal welfare groups, over the coming months.
“This project can only be successful if there is strong engagement from all stakeholders, including animal welfare groups, the racing and breeding industries and indeed anyone who has valuable insights to share, so we would encourage as many people as possible to come forward and have their say,” said Dr Napthine.
“This important process will be open and transparent, and so anyone who wishes to provide their views, information and expertise will be given the opportunity to assist the panel’s considerations and guide our consultation process.
“We look forward to engaging with a wide range of people so that we can formulate a plan to ensure the health and welfare of all thoroughbreds, particularly those who have retired or who never made it to the racetrack.
“Thoroughbreds are central to an industry that provides 72,000 full-time jobs and generates more than $9 billion each year in direct and indirect benefits to Australia’s economy, so the industry has a duty of care to look after them before, during and after their racing careers.”
During their extensive consultation period, the TAWWG will also be seeking assistance and advice from an industry steering group comprising leading trainer Chris Waller, best known for training Winx; Neil Werrett, Board Member of the Victoria Racing Club and part-owner of Black Caviar; Vin Cox, Managing Director of Godolphin Australia; John Kelly, owner of Newhaven Park Stud; Martin Talty, CEO of the Australian Jockeys’ Association; Andrew Nichol, CEO of the Australian Trainers’ Association; and Tom Reilly, CEO of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia.
Any groups or individuals considering making a submission are first encouraged to read the issues paper available online at the TAWWG’s official website (thoroughbredwelfareinitiative.org.au). The paper raises a number of topics and questions that the panel believe are relevant to their work.
“We are grateful to the panel for giving their time and expertise for this project, which is so important for the future of the thoroughbred industry and our horses,” said Mr Reilly.
“I am hopeful that every organisation or person with an interest in thoroughbred welfare will want to contribute, from governments to regulators through to participants and welfare groups.”
The TAWWG may wish to quote from extracts of submissions, with appropriate attribution, unless those making submissions request they remain confidential. Submissions can be emailed to email@example.com or posted to TAWWG, PO Box 149, Canterbury, NSW 2193.
Background: In February this year the federal, state and territory governments established working groups to look at developing standards and guidelines for the welfare and transport of horses, and also the feasibility of a national horse traceability register.
In a report tabled in November last year, the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee recommended the development of a traceability register. They said the register must serve a biosecurity function at its core, but also be designed in a way “that enables additional features to be incorporated into the system as it progresses” including the tracking of retired racehorses.
They represent the thousands of mostly unseen, often unsung and thoroughly essential members of Australia’s racing and breeding industry.
The 14 finalists announced today in the 2020 Australian Stud and Stable Staff Awards are the best-of-the-best in occupations ranging from mucking out stables, to administration, to education, riding, delivering foals, rehoming and retraining ex-racehorses and every other area of an industry that is one of the nation’s biggest.
People like Mandy Radecker, whose success as a jockey has been followed by a career curing problemed racehorses of their bad habits and passing on her knowledge.
Radecker’s nomination in the Horsemanship category is backed by the simple endorsement from her boss, Queensland trainer Michael Lakey: “Mandy has dedicated her life to the thoroughbred horse.”
Two of this year’s finalists, Kelly Colledge in the Newcomer category, and Sarah Moran in the Administration and Ancillary category, both demonstrated great resourcefulness in difficult circumstances.
The relatively inexperienced Colledge took over the running of Grafton trainer Brenden Mackay’s stable when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
As Mackay said: “Kelly saved my stable and is keeping my dream alive. She has a ‘next-level’ work ethic.”
Similarly, Sarah Moran, who worked in the office of Melbourne trainer Robbie Griffiths, stepped up when her boss was battling a brain aneurysm during 2019.
“I don’t know how we would have coped if Sarah hadn’t taken on a variety of extra roles. She was instrumental in keeping our business afloat,” Griffiths said.
Others, like Godolphin’s Simon Johnson, the Assistant Stud Manager at Woodlands Stud and a finalist in the Leadership Award, is commended as “exactly the person these awards were created for”.
Johnson, a highly accomplished horseman and dedicated educator, sees his role as a broad one.
“We have a duty to give everyone who comes into the industry and who shows a willingness to learn the opportunity to advance themselves,” Johnson said.
“These Awards recognise not so much the people like me, but all of those who give so much to ensure their farms and the industry are successful.”
In the Dedication to Racing category, Brett “Lofty” Killion has worked for some of Australia’s finest trainers over the past 25 years and is now the Brisbane foreman for Chris Waller.
Renowned as one of the few in the game who would arrive at Randwick before his first boss, Gai Waterhouse, Killion is described by his nominator as “honest, hard-working and ever-loyal”.
“Lofty has learned from people like Gai and her father’s legendary foreman ‘Spider’ Barker. He’s been influenced by a man with the outstanding horsemanship skills and eye of John Thompson and by the methodical search for perfection of Chris Waller,” his nominator, Reg Fleming said.
“He’s taken something from all of them.”
The Stud and Stable Staff Awards are supported by Godolphin worldwide and in Australia are staged by Thoroughbred Breeders Australia and Racing Australia with sponsorship from the Melbourne Racing Club Foundation, the Australian Turf Club and Magic Millions.
TBA Chief Executive Tom Reilly said the 2020 Awards are made against a testing background that has demonstrated more clearly than ever the value of those who keep the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry at their world-leading level.
“Australia was one of the few racing jurisdictions in the world where racing continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of the reasons for that was the dedication and discipline of the entire workforce,” Reilly said.
“The SSSA’s again highlights the quality of those who work behind the front line in the most vital roles.”
MRC Foundation Chief Operating Officer Warren Horton said his organisation was proud to again sponsor the Admin and Ancillary Award.
“The work these individuals perform behind the scenes is truly remarkable and they are the true unsung heroes of our industry. Good luck to all the nominees,” Horton said.
The full list of finalists in the seven SSSA categories is:
Leadership – Michael Shepherdson (McEvoy Mitchell Racing) and Simon Johnson (Godolphin)
Horsemanship – Wendy Smith (Blue Gum Farm) and Mandy Radecker (Michael Lakey Racing)
Australian Turf Club Dedication to Racing – Brett Killion (Chris Waller Racing) and Michael Hurry (Victoria Racing Club)
Magic Millions Dedication to Breeding – Chris Cooper (Godolphin) and Martin Bruechert (Coolmore Australia)
Melbourne Racing Club Foundation Administration and Ancillary – Tetsuhito Hirose (IRT) and Sarah Moran (Griffiths Racing)
Newcomer – Kelly Colledge (Brendan Mackay, trainer) and Alyssa Pickels (Kitchwin Hills Stud)
Thoroughbred Care and Welfare – Jade Willis (Skyfall Park) and Liz Andriske (SpareOne Rehoming)
The winner in each category, other than the Newcomer, receives $10,000 and a trophy with a further $3,000 to share among workplace colleagues. The winner in the Newcomer category receives $5,000.
A further $5,000 and a trophy is awarded for Thoroughbred Excellence to the category winner (except Newcomer and Care and Welfare) judged to have made an exceptional and significant contribution throughout the year.
The thoroughbred industry has come together to announce a strategy to develop a national horse welfare regime.
Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA), the Australian Trainers’ Association (ATA) and the Australian Jockeys’ Association (AJA) along with other stakeholders have established an Independent Working Group (IWG).
This will review the current welfare landscape in the Australian thoroughbred industry, look to world’s best practice, consult with participants in the industry, and draw upon the learnings from other animal industries.
The IWG, which will be chaired by former Victorian premier Dr Denis Napthine, will focus on horses exiting the thoroughbred industry, whether as retired racehorses or unraced animals, through to end-of-life management.
The other panelists are Dr Bidda Jones, Chief Science and Strategy Officer for RSPCA Australia, Dr Ken Jacobs, a director of the Australian Veterinary Association, and Jack Lake, a senior advisor on agriculture in the Hawke, Keating and Rudd governments.
The membership of the IWG is deliberately drawn from outside the racing and breeding industries to ensure their independence and encourage them to explore policy options outside current industry thinking.
Tom Reilly, the chief executive of TBA, said: “The challenges of the welfare, rehoming, retraining and end-of-life for thoroughbreds are national issues that are of concern to all participants in the industry.
“We have to acknowledge that if we can improve outcomes in these areas, it is our responsibility to do so.
“Too often our industry is fragmented along state lines. This initiative will facilitate a national discussion with the aim of finding national solutions. Everybody who I have asked for support have been happy to give it and get behind this.”
The IWG will be asked to produce a report outlining a practical policy framework for a national horse welfare regime, which will be the basis for a wider discussion with industry stakeholders and federal and state governments.
The work of the panel will be funded by industry participants, with commitment of resources from breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys, clubs and wagering operators.
Andrew Nicholl, chief executive of the ATA, said: “It is important that participants from across the Thoroughbred industry work together on what is a challenging issue.”
A steering committee, which will include leading trainer Chris Waller, will sign off on the terms of reference for the IWG, which is expected to provide its recommendations later this year.
Martin Talty, chief executive of the AJA said: “Horse welfare is paramount to everything we do and it is important that we have a panel independent of the industry to help us. I am confident they will provide recommendations that we can all get behind.”
Chris Waller urged all in the industry to come together behind the project: “This initiative is an opportunity to start building a national approach to welfare in racing and all industry players should grab it.”
Racing Australia, the national body that is comprised of all the state racing regulators, said last night it “welcomed” the initiative and that they shared a “common aspiration of elevating the quality of equine welfare in Australia.”
The organisations, businesses and people supporting the initiative include:
National Australian Jockeys’ Association, Australian Trainers’ Association, Bet Easy, Inglis, Magic Millions, Tabcorp, Federation of Bloodstock Agents Australia, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia.
NSW Attunga Stud, Bjorn Baker Racing, Chris Waller Racing, Coolmore, Fairhill Farm, Gai Waterhouse Racing, Godolphin, John O’Shea Racing, Kitchwin Hills, Kooringal Stud, Middlebrook Valley Lodge, Newgate Farm, Newhaven Park Stud, NSW Trainers’ Association, Rheinwood Pastoral, Segenhoe Thoroughbreds, Sledmere Stud, Tartan Fields, Thoroughbred Breeders NSW, Tyreel Stud, Vinery Stud, Widden Stud, Yarraman Park Stud.
Victoria Ciaron Maher Racing, Lauriston Park Thoroughbreds, Lindsay Park Racing, Malua Racing, Melbourne Racing Club, Mick Price Racing, Rosemont Stud, Spicer Thoroughbreds, Swettenham Stud, Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria, Three Bridges Thoroughbreds, Victoria Racing Club.
Western Australia Darling View Thoroughbreds, Lynward Park Stud, Yarradale Stud, Mungrup Stud, Scenic Lodge Thoroughbred Stud, Western Australian Racing Trainers’ Association, Thoroughbred Breeders WA.
Owners China Horse Club, Francis & Christine Cook, Debbie Kepitis, Peter Tighe, Neil Werrett, John Camilleri.
The Australian breeding industry will support those affected by bush fires with vendors at this week’s Magic Millions sale donating $500 for every horse sold.
As fires rage across much of the country, including in prominent breeding areas such as the NSW Southern Highlands, breeders have decided to make a contribution as they gather on the Gold Coast.
The money will be deducted from the sale price and donated to charities that support the victims of the fires.
“A lot of vendors were talking about what we could do to help those who need it the most and there was overwhelming support when this idea was discussed,” said Tom Reilly, chief executive of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA).
With more than 800 horses catalogued in the sale it is hoped the initiative can raise well in excess of $300,000.
Basil Nolan, President of TBA said: “I think this is a great effort as many of the vendors have had a very tough time in recent years with drought and many have been dealing with fires themselves.
“The industry is a real community and everybody I’ve spoken with wanted to do something. You cannot look at what’s going on and not be affected by it.”
The money will be donated immediately after the sale and be directed at those charities that help victims of the crisis.
The TBA announcement comes as Magic Millions and its sponsor, The Star Gold Coast, both committed $50,000 to the bush fire relief.
NOTES: The donations will be deducted for horses sold in Book One of the Magic Millions sale, which concludes on Saturday evening. The donation is voluntary with vendors having the option of opting out.
For more information contact Tom Reilly on 0423 146 334
It is with great sadness that I write to you about the passing of a true friend to the breeding industry and to all of us involved with Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, Ken Barry.
Ken (pictured centre) with the staff & boards of TBA and Aushorse.
Many of you will also have been lucky enough to have known Ken and I’m sure you will be mourning his death earlier this week, as everybody at TBA is. For those of you who did not have that honour, I feel it is important to write a few words about a man who, despite battling ill health for many years, was indefatigable in his efforts to improve our industry.
Ken served on the board of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia for more than a dozen years. Throughout that period he made a huge contribution. A greatly respected lawyer who chaired the legal firm Norton Rose, Ken was not somebody to take a directorship lightly; he had a first rate intellect and often brought a new perspective or insight to an issue being discussed at the board table.
But Ken’s contribution to TBA was never restricted to our meetings. He was always putting his mind – and giving his time – to one issue or another. He would be the first director to put up their hand to work on a subcommittee and he was continually in contact with our chief executive and staff, providing assistance wherever he could.
He was also a very kind and warm man, who made friends with all who came into his orbit. He enjoyed a good joke and had a deep laugh that was contagious, often heard when he was attending one sale or another. But he was also somebody with great integrity and resolve, a man who could be counted on in difficult times.
I, along with every member of the boards of TBA and Aushorse, am mourning Ken’s death, both as a friend and colleague. The industry owes him a huge debt of gratitude.
Ken’s funeral will be held at the Immaculate Conception Church in Hawthorn, Melbourne, at 1.30pm this coming Wednesday (4th December) and I am sure that I will see many of you there.
Our thoughts are with Ken’s wife Lynne and their family.
There are no easy fixes in this welfare discussion, but having an independent task force will be the foundation of developing good policy. It goes without saying, that breeders must be widely consulted in any discussions.
Tuesday was the third face to face meeting we had had with Racing Australia and I am due to catch up with Greg and their chief executive, Barry O’Farrell, again tomorrow.
I have also held meetings or provided briefings to the following in the past week: the head of the Federal Department of Agriculture, the acting chief executive of the RSPCA, the chief executive of Animal Health Australia, senior advisors to the Federal Agriculture Minister, the Shadow Agriculture minister, most state Agriculture Ministers, and a number of state racing ministers.
Last Tuesday we also held an event in Canberra, with the Parliamentary Friends of Primary Producers. This is an annual event, but this year it provided us with an opportunity to tackle head on the issue of welfare. The Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack spoke on the night, as did the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, and the event was well attended.
Evenings like this are valuable as we regularly need support from the Federal Government: for example, it would be impossible to develop a national traceability register for horses without their buy in.
The board of TBA believe the issues that have been raised need a national and collaborative response and we are determined to play our part in good policy outcomes.
I have already received a number of good suggestions from breeders with ideas to assist the industry and all are gratefully received. If you have one, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your feedback.
Establish an industry welfare taskforce: This body needs to be chaired by an independent person of standing within the industry and make recommendations to Racing Australia and the wider industry. It must include welfare experts and senior veterinarians independent of the industry’s regulators.
An independent audit and review of Racing Australia’s retirement data: Their data, which provides information on where a horse goes to upon retiring from racing, has been heavily criticised in the past week. While some reports have misrepresented or confused what these numbers represent, it is crucial that both the thoroughbred industry and wider public have confidence in their accuracy. As such, there must be an independent audit of the numbers and the collection and compliance with retirement forms.
A review of the number of thoroughbreds going to livestock sales, abattoirs and meatworks: It is essential the thoroughbred industry understand the extent of the numbers as we deal with issues of horses leaving the racing or breeding industry. This will enable the thoroughbred industry to appropriately fund rehoming and retraining programs.
TBA and RA to review patterns in the foal crop: The number of horses being bred has decreased by a quarter since the mid 2000s, but we need to better understand how supply meets demand. We also need to review the number of horses being bred that do not enter racing or return to breeding.
Ensure the development of a national horse traceability register: We need to be able to follow our horses after they leave the racing or breeding industry. An industry working group needs to be established urgently to build on the political momentum for the register.
Develop national standards and guidelines for horse welfare: At present horses are not part of the Animal Health Australia framework, unlike cattle or sheep. Developing this framework would encourage best practice, especially for horses that leave the racing and breeding industry.
Start a full circle program for Australian thoroughbreds: This scheme, developed by the US Trotting Association allows people with an interest in a horse to put their name on a register so that if the animal is ever discovered to be in trouble, for example is offered at a livestock sale, the person or people on the register can be contacted. It does not oblige that person to take over responsibility for the horse, but is a way of enabling people to assist a horse they care about in times of trouble. Read more here http://lifeafterracing.ustrotting.com/full-circle.cfm
Establishment of an organisation similar to Drinkwise: In 2005 the alcohol industry decided to collaborate – despite their fierce commercial competition – to form a body that could promote responsible drinking and also assist them with issues around perception. Such a body would be invaluable for the thoroughbred industry, especially if driven by participants. It would also be tasked with disseminating accurate and transparent information, even on challenging issues.
Last night Thoroughbred Breeders Australia hosted a function in Canberra with the Parliamentary Friends of Primary Producers.
This event, now in its fourth year, is an important one for breeders as it gives us a chance to explain our industry to legislators.
Given the scrutiny that breeding and racing are under following the ABC’s 7.30 report, last night’s event was more timely than ever before.
There was strong attendance from across the political divide and the speakers included Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals leader and Riverina MP Michael McCormack, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Nola Marino, and Shadow Agriculture Minister, Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon.
I addressed the meeting first and made clear that TBA is committed to addressing any welfare issue.
“We have the courage and we have the determination to ensure that we have an industry that we can all be proud of,” Mr Reilly said.
“We must address the issues the ABC has raised. As an industry we will be judged by our response.”
There was support for the industry’s response to animal welfare issues raised in an ABC report about retired thoroughbreds last week.
Michael McCormack addressed the footage: “No breeder, no jockey, no trainer, no self-respecting person in the racing industry would want to see horses end up that way,” he said.
“It’s just not the way racing does things.”
Mr McCormack also praised the racing and breeding industries for boosting employment and economic outcomes for regional Australia.
“Whether it’s a little dusty country race track out in the middle of nowhere, or whether it’s the Murrumbidgee Turf Club which is a magnificent facility in Wagga Wagga and everything in between,” he said.
“Well done to you breeders, you owners and everyone involved.
“This government will always back you every step of the way, I know I share bipartisanship when I say that.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese labelled what was shown on 7.30 as an outrage, saying it shocked him.
“I’m confident that your industry will work your butt off,” he said.
“You’ll open yourselves up to scrutiny because you don’t want any taint whatsoever.”
He said the combined racing and breeding industries provided almost $10 billion to Australia’s economy and about 90,000 jobs.
“I say on behalf of the Labor Party, it’s good you’ve got on the front foot,” the party’s leader said.
“It’s important governments take action where appropriate as well.”
Mr Albanese said the national economy and people’s quality of life couldn’t afford for the industry to be damaged.
“We can’t afford, for what is overwhelmingly such a positive experience, to be damaged as well.
“We will do anything we can do to provide assistance.”
As well as last night’s event, I had a number of meetings in Canberra with politicians and senior bureaucrats to discuss possible actions in response to the ABC’s report.
TBA has also had meetings with Racing Australia and I hope to report on some initiatives shortly.