Passion to the fore during festive season

The horse
The horse is always top of mind for people who work in the thoroughbred industry. Photo: Sharon Chapman

While holidaymakers are relaxing around the country, the Christmas-New Year period is one of the busiest for the thoroughbred racing industry. From Boxing Day through to Sunday 5 January there will be 20 thoroughbred race meetings around New Zealand, meaning a busy time for those who work in the industry.

There are no rest days for those who care for the 4800 horses in training in New Zealand, and leading trainer Jamie Richards outlined the passion and dedication that goes in behind getting a horse to the races over the festive season. “Our team completely understands this is an incredibly important part of the season for us when many of our most talented horses are racing,” Richards said.

“Our people are there on Christmas morning as we still train all of our horses; they are there on Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, all of the public holidays – in fact every day, always putting our horses first. “They never miss a beat and ensure that our horses are top of mind when many people are thinking about parties, sea, sand and holidays – all we are thinking about are our horses, just like every other day of the year, rain, hail or shine.”

An Australian-based protest group would have the public believe these horses are mistreated and forced to race. Nothing could be further from the truth according to New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’s chief executive Bernard Saundry. “The welfare of our horses is paramount, and we are fortunate to have dedicated people whose sole focus is ensuring the horses in their care want for nothing,” he said.

“It is quite telling that the Australian-based protest group, which has been most vocal about the treatment of our horses, did not make a submission when our thoroughbred welfare guidelines were open for comment earlier this year. “It is unfortunate that a group which is supposedly concerned with welfare prefers to spread misinformation. “We hope that those who take the time to relax with friends and family at one of the many summer race meetings over the holiday period judge for themselves the level of care our wonderful equine athletes receive.”