Jockey Club puts focus on horses' safety

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The Independent Online
The Jockey Club has made the welfare of the horse a "strategic issue" as animal rights becomes an ever more important issue and racing comes under increasing scrutiny, writes John Cobb. And racing authorities in other countries are using the whip regulations in Britain as a model for their own rules, Sir Thomas Pilkington, the Senior Steward, reported yesterday.

"We're very alert to the position of the horse within sport," the Club's Executive Director, Christopher Foster, said. "We are continuing improvements to veterinary care on racecourses and encouraging courses to invest in people who have the knowledge to improve the underfoot condition of tracks."

David Pipe, the Club's Director of Public Affairs, reported that there has been a positive response from the public to the more stringent whip regulations. "We used to receive letters of complaint by the hundred when there was a bad incident, now they are in the tens.

"The RSPCA have been fulsome in their praise for the action that racing has taken to make the sport as safe and fair as possible. We've worked hard to remove the traps."

The welfare of punters and racegoers too is high on the list of the Jockey Club's priorities with a pledge to improve the flow of information to those at the track and in the betting shop. "Information for punters has increased tremendously over the past 10 years," Foster said, "and the push to speed up stewards' inquiries and to start races at the advertised times has been a success.

"But we will continue to press for improvements in that area. There is nothing more disastrous to the chap who wants to pop into a betting shop for two minutes to watch a race or listen to it on the telephone than to find that it is going to be off six or seven minutes late."