On a per capita, basis Australia has arguably the strongest racing industry in the world.
Australia’s thoroughbred industry provides employment for more than 75,000 people, with around 80% of these jobs being in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. The industry contributes more than $1 billion in Federal and State taxes annually, and the economic value to the economy is estimated to exceed $5 billion per year.
Australia has more racecourses than any other country in the world, and the second largest number of racehorse starters behind the USA.
Of the horse population, approximately half are mares or fillies that are retired to stud post-racing. A small percentage of colts will go to stud as stallions, and the remainder, predominantly geldings, will be retained into a new career in equestrian sports, become pleasure horses or paddock mates.
Thoroughbreds are extremely athletic horses and are sought after in question sport roles, often excelling at showjumping, eventing and polo.
Like any athlete, some racehorses can experience career ending injuries. Often these are not life threatening but often heal with time and the right management techniques.
New South Wales and Victoria set the standard in terms of animal welfare initiatives. Racing NSW and Racing Victoria contribute 1% of prize money from each race run to an equine welfare fund.
Racing NSW has purchased farms at Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains dedicated to the retraining of racehorses. It is now a condition from Racing NSW that you must be able to prove where any racehorse is spending life after racing.
Racing Victoria’s Equine Welfare Program implements policies that maintain and enhance racehorse health and racing longevity, in addition to facilitating the transition of racehorses from racing to future equestrian or pleasure horse careers. Racing Victoria also developed a program called ‘Off The Track’ specifically for retired racehorses.
Racing Queensland has a Commission’s Animal Welfare Strategy to maximise career opportunities for all racing animals. South Australia has a network called ‘Changing Reign’, which focuses on promoting the positive transition of horses from racing to a new career.