Rehoming in spotlight for birthday bash

Worming, tetanus vaccinations and a trip to the dentist may sound to some like a birthday party from hell but this one is all about ensuring racehorses live long into retirement.

Leading equine experts will offer free advice on caring for retired racehorses during Racing Victoria’s Off the Track event at Geelong racecourse on the horses’ birthday next Tuesday.

While about one in 20 racehorses is either euthanised during its career or sent to the sale yards, Racing Australia data says the vast majority head into breeding or equestrian when they step off the track.

In Victoria, 50 accredited re-trainers are tasked with helping about 2000 horses annually adjust to post-racing life.

The event at Geelong is aimed at promoting the retraining program and teaching owners of retired racehorses how to care for the former athletes.

“Their horses will get a makeover and the owners will get some great advice from the experts, so it’s a great way of giving these unsung heroes some well-deserved recognition and support,” RV chief steward Terry Bailey said.

Attendees at the event include dual Group One winner Sirmione and 1992 Melbourne Cup winner Subzero who will be celebrating his 29th birthday on August 1.

“All racehorses, whether fast or slow, deserve a happy home,” Country Racing Victoria chief executive Scott Whiteman said.

It’s one of several pushes by racing authorities to better protect the welfare of racehorses.

Racing NSW now diverts one cent from every dollar of prize money to an equine welfare fund and last week announced the purchase of a 1050-hectare property to home retired champions and retrain retired thoroughbreds.

On a national scale, Racing Australia reforms last season mean thoroughbred foals must be registered within 30 days of birth.

Owners could previously wait until the commencement of the horse’s racing career, which may never occur.

More than 11,000 racehorses are registered each year.

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