The provision of optimum veterinary services to the horse racing industry
Ratification Date: 19 Oct 2018
Veterinarians involved in the horse racing industry are required to abide by the rules of racing relevant to veterinarians in the jurisdictions in which they work1,2 and should follow the guidelines outlined below. They should be members of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and its special interest group, Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA), and should abide by the Code of Professional Conduct of the AVA.
Veterinarians perform the following roles in the horse racing industry:
- ensuring the welfare of horses
- protecting the safety of riders or drivers through their role in providing skilled veterinary services to the horses
- protecting the interests of owners by providing skilled veterinary service to the racing horses
- assisting racing officials to maintain the integrity of the industry, and therefore public confidence, by providing evidence-based advice on all veterinary aspects of racing
- conducting research into, and advising on, veterinary matters affecting the racing industries.
In addition to racecourse duties, veterinarians who are full-time employees in the horse racing industry may become involved in:
- closer liaison with local veterinarians servicing racing on a state-wide basis
- providing professional advice at racing conferences and/or continuing education events
- research into drug administration and detection, and matters affecting soundness of race horses.
Veterinarians providing services to the horse racing industry should follow the guidelines outlined in the relevant EVA publications.3–5
Organisation of veterinary services
At least one veterinarian must attend all race meetings.
Veterinarians officiating at race meetings or official barrier trials should be approved by the Principal Racing Authority (PRA) under which they are employed6 and should be experienced equine veterinarians or under the supervision or mentorship of an experienced equine veterinarian.
Veterinarians providing services to the horse racing industry should be members of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and its special interest group, Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA), and should abide by the Code of Professional Conduct of the AVA. This is to ensure they are adhering to standards that EVA deems necessary for the welfare of the horses and the integrity of racing.
The veterinarian should be aware of, and abide by, the rules of racing relevant to veterinarians in the PRA in which they work.
The clubs, PRAs or other bodies that control racing on a regional basis in each state/territory must employ a full-time veterinarian who is available to consult with stewards, committees and authorities on all veterinary matters.
All veterinarians employed at race meetings should be well remunerated and ensure they have appropriate insurances, in line with the scope and nature of their duties.
- No veterinarian should work in an honorary capacity at a registered meeting. If a veterinarian feels that a club or organisation should be financially assisted, then they can make an appropriate donation.
- As committee members are normally precluded by the constitutions of the clubs from holding positions of profit, a veterinarian who is a member of a race club committee should make every effort to not officiate at meetings of that particular club.
- Nothing in the above paragraphs should prevent the appointment of honorary consulting veterinarians to race clubs. These veterinarians would not normally be involved in the day-to-day activities of race meetings, but rather serve as consultants to the race clubs in broad matters of veterinary policy.
Clubs Where racing is controlled by an elected committee of a club, free choice in the selection of a suitable veterinarian for employment is appropriate.
Principal Racing Authorities Where racing is controlled by a PRA, the PRA should employ a full-time veterinarian to provide efficient liaison between the PRA and the veterinary profession. A veterinarian employed full-time by a race club or PRA should not be entitled to engage in clinical practice with the horses, trainers and owners under the club’s or PRA’s control.
Harness Racing Australia, Racing Australia and their Clubs should support research relevant to the horse racing industry at both national and local levels.
Code of conduct for veterinarians involved in the horse racing industry
Veterinarians involved in the horse racing industry:
- must be aware of and comply with the rules of racing
- should cooperate with any reasonable requests by stewards and racing officials to attend any inquiry and furnish any relevant records (provided there is no breach of client/patient confidentiality)
- should ensure that their conduct is not regarded as prejudicial to the image, interests or welfare of racing horses or the veterinary profession
- must avoid making media statements that are not based on peer-accepted veterinary principles
- must not make or appear to make statements on behalf of the horse racing industry or the veterinary profession, unless empowered to do so by the industry or profession
- must abide by relevant federal and state legislation in relation to the supply and dispensing of medications, and ensure that drugs dispensed are approved by relevant authorities and are correctly labelled
- should keep detailed, professional, objective and timely clinical records of all examinations, advice and treatments
- should proactively identify, avoid, manage and declare any conflicts of interest.
References & further information
- Racing Australia. Australian Rules of Racing (as of 1st October 2017) https://www.racingaustralia.horse/FreeServices/Australian_Rules_Of_Racing.aspx Accessed October 2019.
- Harness Racing Australia. Australian Harness Racing Rules. http://www.harness.org.au/rules/rules.htm. Accessed November 2017.
- Australian Rules of Racing Relevant to Veterinarians: https://www.ava.com.au/siteassets/group-member-resources/equine-group/arb-rules-for-vets-updated-19092016.pdf
- The Official Veterinary Surgeon at Thoroughbred and Harness Race Meetings – EVA resource
- For further information on official race day vet approval/accreditation programs, contact the respective PRA regulatory veterinarians in each state/territory.
Other relevant policies and position statements
Date of ratification by AVA Board 19 October 2018