Retired race horse

Epsom horse owners asked to take survey


Britain’s inaugural Thoroughbred Census has been initiated, inviting former racehorse owners to partake in the survey open until December 31, 2023. The primary aim is to enhance the traceability of retired racehorses.

About the Census: The census is a collaborative effort with Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), the official aftercare charity of British Racing, funded by the Racing Foundation. It receives support from World Horse Welfare and Weatherbys General Stud Book and is coordinated with experts from Hartpury University. This initiative is a crucial component of British Racing’s Horse Welfare Board’s five-year welfare strategy, ‘A Life Well Lived.’ The project’s objective is to enhance the traceability of thoroughbreds after their racing careers conclude.

The Census seeks to address a recognized data gap resulting from infrequent updates to equine identification documents (passports) once thoroughbreds transition into private ownership. By improving data accuracy, British Racing and RoR aim to provide enhanced support to owners, including access to educational resources and avenues for competition if desired. Additionally, it fosters informed and supportive communities. Furthermore, it equips the Horse Welfare Board and RoR to enhance and adapt welfare initiatives and facilitates rapid and effective communication in the event of an equine disease outbreak.

Helena Flynn, Programme Director of the Horse Welfare Board, stated, “This campaign will help us emphasize responsible ownership and the critical role every thoroughbred owner plays in ensuring the accuracy of their equine identification document (passport).”

What Information Does the Census Require? To complete the survey, owners must provide the horse’s equine identification document (passport) number, microchip number, age, current residence, second career, and other pertinent details to compile a comprehensive dataset for retired British racehorses in 2023.

Why is an Additional Objective of the Census Necessary? Typically, new horse owners are expected to update ownership information within 30 days. During their racing careers, this information is meticulously maintained by breeders, owners, and trainers in the Weatherbys General Stud Book. However, data for former racehorses significantly declines when they enter private ownership after retiring from racing, with equine identification document (passport) compliance averaging just 20% across the equestrian community. This decline may stem from a lack of awareness regarding the importance of this phase, uncertainty about associated costs, a reluctance to update documents even after a horse has passed away, and a general disinterest in participating in the process.

Therefore, an additional goal of the census is to engage with private owners to encourage them to review and, if necessary, update their horse’s equine identification card (passport). Moreover, owners of horses previously registered with licensed British trainers will be invited to register their horses for free with RoR.

David Catlow, Managing Director of Retraining of Racehorses, emphasized, “The ‘social license’ for the use of horses in sport is under increasing scrutiny, with the welfare of former racehorses after retirement being a specific concern. This initiative is a significant stride toward ensuring thoroughbreds enjoy a healthy and caring existence throughout their lives, while also providing the racing industry with pertinent data to inform future decisions.”

To complete the form, please visit:

Participation in the census is voluntary, but owners are strongly encouraged to join the community and contribute. Full findings will be disclosed in the first quarter of 2024.

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