Following the program that aired on the ABC’s 7.30 Report last night, Racing NSW Chief Executive, Peter V’landys AM, unequivocally condemned the alleged abhorrent actions of the Meramist Queensland Abattoir. The vision was sickening, and horrendous and Racing NSW calls upon the Queensland Government and its Department of Primary Industries to take the strongest possible action against the alleged perpetrators of such cruelty. Such conduct and any mistreatment of horses is not tolerated in the NSW Thoroughbred Racing Industry.
In responding to the 7.30 Report, Mr V’landys AM said “I will let the facts below speak for themselves:
• Racing NSW is the only State in Australia that has a Rule of Racing that prohibits horses from being sent to a knackery or abattoir if they have been predominantly domiciled in the NSW Thoroughbred Racing Industry. Further, in NSW it is illegal for an abattoir to process a horse for human consumption, unlike other States.
• That Rule is targeted at eradicating treatment such as that of the Meramist Queensland Abattoir detailed in the 7.30 Report. The effectiveness of that Rule is highlighted by the fact that the 7.30 Report did not identify any horses from NSW that had been sent to that facility, which is where this appalling mistreatment took place.
• As to the 14 horses identified by the ABC, Racing NSW responded to the ABC in respect to those horses and advised that at least 12 of those horses had either predominately raced or been domiciled in other States (where Racing NSW does not have jurisdiction) or had been officially retired to be re-homed as a pleasure horse. Accordingly, these horses were outside of Racing NSW’s jurisdiction and this illustrates why Racing NSW is supportive of a National Horse Traceability Register.
• There have been in excess of 10,000 horses retired in NSW over the past three years and even based on the ABC’s unsubstantiated claim that 14 horses were found at a NSW knackery this shows that the Rule has been effective. No Rule is foolproof and in the racing industry, as in any other element of the community, there is unfortunately 1% of participants who will break the rules despite 99% doing the completely right thing.
• To show Racing NSW’s determination to enforce the Rule, it has over a period of time purchased 10 NSW domiciled horses from a Victorian sale located at Echuca which were at risk of being purchased by a knackery and also made bids on many other horses to make it unviable for the knackery to purchase them.
• Racing NSW has also seized over 120 retired thoroughbred horses on welfare grounds and, over a long period of time, brought these horses back to health and then proceeded to re-home them. Racing NSW has also seized retired thoroughbred horses that were to be exported to Asia to race due to concerns about their ongoing welfare.
• Racing NSW has purchased property throughout NSW including 2,500 acres at Capertee to have sufficient areas to enable its rehoming program.
• Racing NSW has a specific equine welfare fund which requires 1% of all prizemoney to be assigned to horse welfare, which was over $2.5 million last year. Racing NSW was the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce this initiative, doing so in 2016.
• Unfortunately, there will always be people that break the Rules. Racing NSW immediately commenced investigations into the allegations made by the ABC and will prosecute any person that Racing NSW has jurisdiction over that has breached the Rules of Racing and sent a horse to a knackery.
• Racing NSW has not been provided with specific evidence from the ABC in respect to the identity of horses alleged to have been sent to knackeries and will be seeking those details to continue its investigations.
• Despite repeated requests from Racing NSW, the ABC has not returned Racing NSW calls so that Racing NSW could correct some of the incorrect facts that were subsequently aired and to provide any evidence so that Racing NSW can successfully investigate and prosecute breaches of the Rules of Racing. This information included evidence that one horse the ABC claimed was destroyed in a knackery was alive and well and that the ABC was aware of such.
• Racing NSW calls upon any person who has evidence in respect to the mistreatment of a thoroughbred to immediately make contact with the Racing NSW Integrity department for investigation.