New group bid for horse welfare strategy

Former Victorian premier Dr Denis Napthine will head an independent working group of industry groups to develop a national horse welfare strategy.

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, the Australian Trainers' Association, the Australian Jockeys' Association, race clubs, studs and big-name owners and trainers are behind the initiative to review the current welfare landscape in Australia.

The working group will focus on horses exiting the thoroughbred industry, whether as retired racehorses or unraced animals, through to end-of-life management.

Horse welfare became a national focus following the airing of a report on the ABC's 7.30 Report on the eve of Australia's richest race, The Everest, last year.

Independence is the cornerstone of the review with expertise deliberately drawn from outside the racing and breeding industries.

Joining Dr Napthine will be Dr Bidda Jones, chief science and strategy officer for RSPCA Australia, Dr Ken Jacobs, a director of the Australian Veterinary Association, and Jack Lake, a senior advisor on agriculture in the Hawke, Keating and Rudd governments.

TBA chief executive Tom Reilly said the challenges of welfare, rehoming, retraining and end-of-life for thoroughbreds was a national issue.

"Too often our industry is fragmented along state lines," Reilly said.

"This initiative will facilitate a national discussion with the aim of finding national solutions.

"Everybody who I have asked for support have been happy to give it and get behind this."

A steering committee that includes leading trainer Chris Waller will sign off on the terms of reference for the group, expected later in the year.

"This initiative is an opportunity to start building a national approach to welfare in racing and all industry players should grab it," Waller said.