OFFICIALS from the leading racehorse aftercare charities in Ireland, Britain and France met in Newmarket earlier this month to discuss how they could work together to establish and promote best practices for the industry.

Treo Eile was represented at the meeting by co-founder and director Caoimhe Doherty and executive Anne O’Connor. Also in attendance was Retraining of Racehorses managing director David Catlow and, from Au-Delà des Pistes in France, executives Carole Desmetz and Mégane Martins, with vice-president Alix Choppin.

They were joined for a brainstorming session by Godolphin’s UK charities manager Penny Taylor and Diana Cooper, who is a Treo Eile co-director and also a steering group member of the International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses (IFAR).

All three charities have proved incredibly efficient at establishing connections between racing and equestrian disciplines in order to provide increasingly diverse and secure outcomes for thoroughbreds as they embark on their second career following retirement from racing.

Their respective brands have become household names in the industry and actively contribute to raising awareness about retrained racehorses’ versatility and outstanding athletic qualities for all equestrian sports.

The milestone gathering was intended to set up a collaborative base for best practice exchange and a lobbying force to push for transnational topics of welfare and aftercare to be addressed by the racing authorities in Ireland, Britain and France.

All three charities specifically agreed to combine forces on four issues that were identified as obstacles to aftercare becoming increasingly embedded within racing’s objectives and commitments.

  • 1. Lack of traceability of retired racehorses currently hinders racing’s capacity to account for a responsibility towards every horse that was produced for the purpose of racing, a commitment the organisations believe cannot be done away with.
  • 2. Connected with traceability, “social licence” was identified by all three charities as racing’s looming frontier and a challenge that our industries must face collectively and proactively. Thanks to its solid ties with equestrian sports and leisure riding communities, aftercare is in a strong position to be on the front line of this strategy.
  • 3. Treo Eile, ADDP and RoR agree that all those who enjoy or benefit from racing should take both a moral and financial commitment towards the aftercare of racehorses.
  • 4. Treo Eile, ADDP and RoR strongly believe that in order to gain perennial endorsement from society, both as a sport and as an industry, racing must address the thorny issue of euthanasia. Roly Owers, CEO of World Horse Welfare, delivered a powerful presentation on the subject in front of participants.
  • The next step of this tripartite cooperation involves each charity meeting with its respective authorities and partners with a view to coming up with a strategic plan for each subject. The next gathering is due to take place in France in the autumn.

    Alix Choppin commented: “Starting up collaboration with our British and Irish counterparts has been a long-term goal of ours and we are all thrilled that it has now materialised with the support of Godolphin and IFAR.

    “Aftercare is a commitment that we owe to our wonderful horses as well as to society if racing is to continue thriving in attracting fans, racegoers, owners, bettors and media interest.”

    David Catlow added: “We are very grateful to Godolphin for facilitating the day and bringing us together, demonstrating their own deep commitment to the welfare of horses after they have retired from racing. Worldwide, there is increasing debate around the use of horses in sport and their welfare before, during and after racing. RoR, Treo Eile and Au-Dela Des Pistes already do a great deal for aftercare in our respective jurisdictions and with more support from the wider racing industry, we are ideally placed to build on what has already been achieved and give confidence that racehorses continue to enjoy a good life after racing.”

    Caoimhe Doherty said: “The sharing of our journeys to date highlighted common areas of progress and concern. The passion for the welfare of racehorses within each organisation was very evident, as was the positivity to work together to enhance our sector and the ongoing commitment by our respective industries.”