Next NSW Race
Introduction of Microchips & the Thoroughbred ID Card

1 January 2005 - for 2003 & Subsequent Foal Crops

The Australian Stud Book has ceased production of the Document of Description commencing with the 2003 foal crop. These horses, who are microchipped as an additional form of identification, will turn 2YO on 1 August 2005.

In preparation for the change, the Registrar of Racehorses commenced production of the Thoroughbred Identification Card, for issue from 1 January 2005.

The card will be issued at the time of registration for racing purposes, and will replace the Document of Description for all horses recorded as born after 1 July 2003. For those recorded as born before that date, nothing changes and they will continue to carry their Document of Description.1

The new system, for 2003 foals, is as follows:

Australian Stud Book - Foal Identification 2003 foals

The Australian Stud Book will issue a Foal Identification Card at the time of parentage verification. Cards will be sent to the Contact Breeder of a particular foal, once DNA testing has been verified. The card will display the sire, dam, date of birth, sex and microchip number of the foal, as well as the brand image that appears on the Brands Register. For more information regarding the identification process, see

Registrar of Racehorses - Thoroughbred Identification Card

When the 2003 or later foal is ready to be registered, the Foal Identification card should be forwarded to the Registrar with the Application to Register a Racehorse form, and a new card will be produced once the horse is named. This card will travel with the horse, as does the current Document of Description for older horses.

Horse Information (Web) Page - all horses

Once registered, the Thoroughbred Identification Card is supported by additional information on the Horse Information Page . Such details include owner's names, form of the horse, stewards embargoes, approved gear that the horse races in, and an emergency vaccination record. This information will be displayed for all horses, including those with a Document of Description.

The Microchips

The microchips to be used in the Australian program are manufactured by Digital Angel Corp. (formerly Destron Fearing) and are the same as those used by Weatherbys in Great Britain and Ireland and by France GALOP in France. They are similar to the ones used in South Africa. The microchips are especially manufactured for the Australian Stud Book, and have a code specifically for Australian thoroughbreds which will not be repeated in any other thoroughbred racing country.

To ensure this security, the Digital Angel microchips are fully compliant with:-
The International Standards Organisation (ISO) requirements;
The relevant Australian Standards AS5018-2001 and AS5019-2001 as set out by Standards Australia Committee IT 28;
The ISBC guidelines.

They will be injected right into the nuchal ligament in the neck of the horse, exactly midway between the ear and the withers on the nearside, 2.5 cm to 3.5 cm below the top of the neckline. They have an anti-migratory cap which eliminates any movement.


To read the chip once inserted, standard scanners used by Vets in everyday practice read the microchip number of the horse from a close distance. This number can be matched with the number displayed on the Thoroughbred Identification Card, or on the Australian Stud Book website. These scanners, which must be able to read ISO standard microchips, are available for purchase from many veterinary suppliers (quote the standards above), although owners and trainers may choose to continue to identify their horses using the traditional method of Brands and white markings (shortened version on the ID cards).

Registrar of Racehorses - Policy relating to the microchip required, and policy for racing an imported horse in Australia
The following are extracts from the Australian Rules of Racing :


AR 1. In the interpretation of these Rules, (and of any programme of a race meeting held thereunder), the following words unless the context otherwise requires, shall have or include meanings as follows:-

"Microchip" means an electronic identifier transponder encoded with a unique unalterable number approved by the Registrar of Racehorses for implantation in a horse.

AR 16. Unless otherwise permitted by the Registrar of Racehorses, no horse shall be registered unless -

a. it is branded with an identifying brand and, subject to any State legislation, with a brand that consists of a distinguishing foaling numeral over the last figure of the foaling year determined by the provisions of AR.46; and
b. it has been implanted with a microchip in accordance with the requirements of the Registrar of Racehorses.


AR 46. The age of a horse shall be reckoned as follows:

(a) If it was foaled between the first day of July and the thirty-first day of December -

i. from the first day of August in the year in which it was foaled if its dam was first covered on or after the first day of September in the previous year, as that covering is recorded by the Stud Book.
ii. from the first day of August in the year previous to the year in which it was foaled if its dam was first covered before the first day of September in the year previous to the year in which it was foaled, as that covering is recorded in the Stud Book.

(b) If it was foaled between the first day of January and the thirtieth day of June, from the first day of August in the year previous to the year in which it was foaled.

Microchips - Requirements of the Registrar of Racehorses

In accordance with AR 16(b); the requirements of the Registrar of Racehorses for the approved microchip for Australian racing are:

That all horses racing in Australia recorded as foaled in the foaling year 2003 and thereafter, according to the provisions of AR46, shall only be permitted to be registered by the Registrar of Racehorses if it is implanted intramuscularly with an identifying microchip by an approved veterinarian or official provided that:

a. the microchip has been issued by the Australian Stud Book or recognized turf authority for the purpose of identification of the said horse
b. the microchip has the technical characteristics of a read-only passive transponder, full duplex (FDX-B) technology, complying with ISO standards 11784 and 11785
c. the microchip is an identifying microchip. The word identifying means that the microchip must be functioning, and readable by a scanning device used by Australian Stewards. It is not enough that it was implanted in the past, even though it is not currently readable.

Exemption for temporary visitors

Provided that the stewards are otherwise satisfied as to the identity of the horse, a horse trained abroad and imported temporarily to race for less than one month is eligible to start in a race if it has not been implanted with an identifying microchip according to the conditions above. A short extension to this one month period may be considered by the Registrar on application.For further details regarding the conditions for racing an imported horse, click here (details of fees and processes etc).

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