Racehorse Welfare

Care for Racehorses for Life

All owners have a duty of care to their horses and there are many ways which they and the ROA ensure this important commitment is upheld:

  • Owners pay £1.25 per race entry for the welfare of former racehorses - Rule (F) 106 - which equates to almost £250,000 per year.
  • Funding a horse’s care and costs from a foal or yearling to the end of their racing careers
  • The ROA executive has a staff member on ‘The Horse Comes First’ board
  • The ROA Gold Standard award takes into consideration equine welfare and now how the course is reacting to the ‘The Horse Comes First’ campaign
  • The ROA executive has a staff member who keeps up-to-date with equine welfare developments by attending relevant conferences and meetings
  • Many owners contribute to the centres who retrain and care for retired racehorses often also with support of their trainer
  • The ROA supports Racing Welfare - care for racehorses begins with staff who are well looked after.
  • The ROA holds member-only visits to sites of educational interest including veterinary hospitals and to racehorse retraining centres to further the knowledge of owners in these areas.
  • It is compulsory that all Thoroughbred foals are microchipped within 30 days of birth, meaning that horses can be tracked and identified throughout their life.

Equine welfare - background information

This paper has been produced by The Jockey Club, Great British Bacing and the British Horseracing Authority

May 2023


The protests staged at the Grand National Festival prompted a national debate on the issue of animal welfare. But it also provided an opportunity to talk about the wider positives of our sport.  

We recognise that the threat of future protests continues to exist and with that comes the potential for more national media and public interest in our sport.

We passionately believe this represents an opportunity to have a calm and reasonable conversation, backed up by facts, that underlines the care and investment we are making in advancing equine welfare, which brings benefits for horses both within and far beyond horseracing. It also gives us  the opportunity to highlight racing’s role in modern society, underlining its popularity and contribution to communities and the wider economy.

•  In Britain we are a nation of sport and animal lovers and horseracing provides the best of both – loved equine superstars competing at the top of their game.

•  British racing is the UK’s second largest spectator sport behind football, with millions tuning in at home or going along to one of Britain’s 1,500 individual race meetings.

•  Horseracing provides remarkable stories and unbeatable days out with friends and family.

•  The Grand National at Aintree and The Derby at Epsom have become protected events for free to air broadcast because of their importance to Britain’s sporting and cultural heritage.

•  The horseracing industry has a clear and moral responsibility for the welfare of the racehorse, a responsibility we take extremely seriously.

•  Racehorses are our athletes, they are the heart of this sport and rightly receive the best care and training available.

•  The 20,000-plus horses who race over the course of a year receive almost constant attention from the 6,000- plus stable staff who are dedicated to their care on a daily basis.

•  Support is also provided in their post-racing careers and thoroughbreds retrain into many other equine sports including polo, eventing, dressage, hacking and many more.

•  The sport has its own dedicated charity – Retraining of Racehorses (RoR). Partly through the work of RoR, and due to the adaptability and versatility of the thoroughbred, an active market for rehoming and retraining of racehorses has developed. Tens of thousands of former racehorses go on to fulfilling second careers.

•  As with all elite sports and all activities involving horses, there is an element of risk in racing.

•  We’ve long since recognised this and over the last 20 years the sport has invested over £40 million to continue to minimise that risk, advance equine veterinary science, and make sure our athletes are cared for, healthy and happy.

•  As a result, horseracing today is safer than it has ever been. The number of horses that have suffered fatal injuries on racecourses has decreased to just 0.21% of runners.

•  99.5% of horses complete their races without any serious injury. There are around 90,000 runners in a full uninterrupted year of racing.

•  Any horse injury or fatality is one too many and that is why we will continue to evolve and invest to ensure that the safety of our horses above all else is our number one  riority as a sport.

•  British Racing has an independently-chaired Horse Welfare Board which published its five-year strategic plan - ‘A Life Well Lived’ - in February 2020. The plan includes 26 projects covering continuous improvements across the areas of safety, wellbeing, and traceability.

•  We absolutely recognise that people will have questions about our great sport, enjoyed by millions of people in this country each year, and provide many opportunities for these discussions to take place.

•  We’re encouraging everyone to find out more about the thoroughbred by getting involved in racing’s annual National Racehorse Week – which takes place 9-17 September. Over nine days, the doors are open to studs, training yards and aftercare centres nationwide for people to go behind the scenes to experience for themselves the love and care racehorses receive. You can register now and will be notified mid-June once places go live to book - www.nationalracehorseweek.uk


•  Horseracing is not just a brilliant sport but a thriving industry that is an important part of Britain’s culture and economy.

•  Horseracing brings huge benefits to the national economy, with an economic impact of around £4.1 billion.

•  From racehorse breeders to trainers, yard staff, jockeys, vets and racecourse staff, the industry supports more than 20,000 jobs directly, or 85,000-plus when including both direct and indirect employment.

•  When the sport is thriving, the communities we’re part of thrive as well, and the whole nation benefits from a strong racing industry.

•  That’s a real benefit to the local, rural communities where there are racecourses or equine hubs like Newmarket.


•  Racecourses can’t talk publicly about any security plans we might have in place for any event.

•  However, as anyone would expect racecourses work closely with the police to ensure we protect all those attending our racedays with the safety and enjoyment of all participants, human or equine, our number one priority.

•  Most people would agree that a conversation about equine welfare is always worthwhile, but disruptive, law-breaking stunts like at this year’s Grand National protests aren’t the way to do it.

•  Racing respects the right for peaceful protest but sincerely hopes that Animal Rising reflect on whether their proposed actions are a legitimate, safe, and responsible form of protest.

•  Their actions could endanger the horses they purport to protect, as well as jockeys, officials, and themselves.

•  Dealing with illegal protests are a drain on police and security resources when they should be focusing on providing a safe and enjoyable environment for the hard-working people who have spent their money on a great day out.

•  These protestors want to target racing’s biggest events because so many people watch it. Their agenda isn’t about racing, it’s about wider society matters.

•  Their stated mission is that “Animal Rising is a social movement to create a new relationship with all beings and give us a chance for a safe ecological future. The group primarily calls for the transition to a secure and sustainable plant-based food system, alongside a mass rewilding programme”.


Retraining of Racehorses (RoR)

Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) is British Horseracing’s official charity for the welfare of horses that have retired from racing.

The charity promotes the versatility and adaptability of racehorses for other equestrian activities following their retirement from racing. It also protects horse welfare through a nationwide ‘safety net’ that is available to assist any former racehorse considered ‘vulnerable’. In such cases, the charity provides funding and expert care prior to suitablerehoming.

As the sport’s official charity, RoR raises funds from within the Racing Industry, providing information and education for owners and trainers in both the racing and equine Industries to assist with the rehoming and retraining of formerracehorses.

The ultimate goal is to maintain a balance between the number of horses leaving racing and the number of enthusiastic and suitable new homes. To this end, RoR funds and runs a well-established programme of competitions and educational events across thecountry.

Launched by the British Horseracing Board (now the British Horseracing Authority) in April 2000, RoR was awarded charitable status in autumn 2000.

RoR has since established itself as one of the pre-eminent equine charities in Great Britain, working closely with organisations such as the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare, as well as all of the principle equinesports.

In 2016 the charity played an integral role in establishing IFAR, the International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses and it currently provides the Chairman of the IFAR Steering Group. IFAR is a vehicle for sharing best practice in racehorse aftercare across international racing bodies andorganisations.

The charity does not physically retrain or rehome the horses itself, rather it:

  • promotes and facilitates the retraining of racehorses;
  • funds and stages competitions for former racehorses in a range of equine disciplines;
  • funds and stages educational events and clinics for the owners of former racehorse;
  • funds and oversees the care and rehoming of vulnerable former racehorses

Retraining of Racehorses (RoR)
Office 6, Penfold Building
Westfield Farm
East Garston, Hungerford
RG17 7HD
01488 648998