Wellbeing: Racing demographics, reasons for retirement & post racing destinations

The University of Melbourne

  • Project code: PRJ-011271

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Wednesday, June 20, 2018

  • Project completion date: Thursday, December 30, 2021

  • Journal Articles From Project: Drivers of exit and outcomes for Thoroughbred racehorses participating in the 2017-2018 Australian racing season PLOS ONE (Issue: Vol. 16 Issue 9 on 21/9/2021), National participation levels in the 2017-2018 Australian thoroughbred racing season TBA (Issue: TBA on 30/6/2022), State and territory participation levels in the 2017-2018 Australian thoroughbred racing season TBA (Issue: TBA on 30/6/2022)

  • National Priority: HOR-Thoroughbred horse welfare, workforce safety and environmental sustainability


Study 1: Evaluating the racing career of Australian Thoroughbred foals
(Population dynamics of the racing industry)
This study will build upon the previous Victorian industry studies and will describe the dynamics of the racehorse population in other States and Territories by following a subset of foals born in Australia from entry into the racing industry until the horses exit the racing industry. The study design will be an extension of the design and methods developed and applied previously.
A randomly selected subset of mares will be selected from the Australian stud book and the following data recorded:
” Number of foals born to selected mares
” Number of resulting horses that enter training
” Number of horses that commence a racing career
” The age that each horse enters training and commences racing
” The age that each horse exits the racing industry
A variety of industry databases will be interrogated to obtain these data.
Study 2: Destination post-racing 2012 foal crop
The 2012 foal crop in Victoria is the first foal crop eligible for racing after the introduction of the retirement rule, which stipulates that all racehorse owners must inform the racing regulator of the destination of the horse once it leaves the racing industry and “retires”. This study will provide the industry with an audit of compliance with this rule and will build on the results of Study 1.


Thoroughbred Horses

Research Organisation

The University of Melbourne

Objective Summary

Outcomes and Deliverables.
Study 1 will deliver:
– a greater understanding of the proportion of foals that enter the racing industry
– a detailed understanding of the career longevity of horses in the racing industry
– a description of the reasons that horses leave the racing industry
– current gaps in the traceability of horses as they enter and leave the racing industry
Study 2 will deliver:
– an evidence base for the Thoroughbred industry to engage with the public regarding the destination of horses once their racing career has ended
Where possible, proposed new studies will be more focused on higher level population data sourced from aggregated industry datasets such as the Stud Book.
In some cases aggregated data are not sufficient to meet project objectives. For example, following horses to determine movement patterns from pre-training juvenile stages into a racing career and from racing into a post-racing destination, by necessity requires individual animal follow-up. Since 2012 in some states there is an obligation to collect and report these movements. This study proposes using direct contact to follow up a sample of horses in order to provide accurate information on animal movement patterns, destinations and reasons for movements.