THE British Horseracing Authority has expressed its “shock and dismay” at scenes from this week’s RTÉ Investigates programme.

A statement issued by the regulator said: “Urgent steps must be taken by the appropriate bodies to improve standards for all horses sent to this facility, and sanctions imposed on anyone found to have committed illegal acts or broken regulatory requirements.

“We are aware of the illegal tampering of horse passports and believe the introduction of a digital-only system for equine ID is essential to stop this practice. British racing, alongside other equestrian sports and welfare bodies, has repeatedly lobbied Government to introduce digital ID. We will continue to make it a core ask of the new administration.

“British racing’s goal, as set out in the independently-chaired Horse Welfare Board’s strategy ‘A Life Well Lived’, is to achieve 100% traceability of racehorses when they retire and take their first move from the sport.

“For horses for whom euthanasia is required – which in some circumstances is the most humane outcome – we are here to help those responsible make difficult but timely decisions. Our code of practice for euthanasia emphasises that horses must be allowed to retain their dignity to the end of their lives and if euthanasia is the only option, it should be performed at home or in suitable surroundings.

“In 2022 we imposed a rule that all racehorses which run in Great Britain must be signed out of the human and animal food chain. It was introduced to prevent any horse from racing in Britain and then legally being sold for slaughter to abattoirs, either domestically or internationally.

“British racing is open and transparent about the horses involved in our sport.”

The BHA says digital ID will play an important role in the enforcement of the new Parliamentary Bill which will ban live exports of horses and other animals for slaughter from Britain.

Because horses can no longer be exported from Britain to the continent for slaughter there are suspicions that low-value horses in Britain are being re-routed through Northern Ireland and the Republic before moving on to Europe.