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Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board introduces Equine Injury in Irish Racing Risk Reduction Project

The welfare of all participants in horseracing, in particular the safety of both horses and riders, is of paramount importance and at the core of the integrity functions carried out by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB). To this end, the IHRB is announcing the Equine Injury in Irish Racing Risk Reduction (EIIRRR) Project. The purpose of the EIIRRR Project is to undertake an analysis of Irish horseracing data and to evaluate worldwide evidence of injury risk mitigation strategies, helping us identify opportunities to improve outcomes for our horses and riders in Ireland.


The EIIRRR Project was initiated in late 2022 when Dr Sarah Rosanowski, an equine epidemiologist, joined the IHRB as Project Consultant.  In this project, Dr Rosanowski has built on analysis of Irish horseracing data, which Professor Tim Parkin (University of Bristol) and Dr Euan Bennet (University of Glasgow), also experts in this area, began in 2016. The research team is being supported by a project team with broad expertise and experience across the Irish racing industry, including trainers, jockeys, racecourse representatives, medical officers, veterinarians, Horse Racing Ireland and IHRB.  A report on the work will follow later this year. In the meantime, the IHRB Veterinary team has already put some actions into operation at Irish racecourses to act on early findings and recommendations.


Having introduced EIIRRR to industry participants at a Seminar last month, the first significant change to be implemented is an expansion of the IHRB’s existing race-day equine veterinary inspection programme. IHRB regulatory veterinary surgeons are on duty at every one of the approximately 390 racing fixtures held in the year on the island of Ireland and inspect or examine every horse before racing.  Horses have been “trotted up” on a broad “whole card” basis since 2014, with individual horses being examined more closely based on known relevant history.


The EIIRRR Project has designed a risk assessment for race-day injury, allowing these veterinary inspections to be refined and expanded on a broader risk-based approach. For example, any horse that has not raced for 365 days or longer or any horse that fell on their previous start will automatically be checked by the IHRB regulatory veterinary team on arrival at the racecourse. Equally, horses which are aged seven or older racing on the Flat and 10 or older competing in a National Hunt race will also be a focus, and any horse aged seven or older making their debut on the racecourse will also undergo a pre-race examination.


Alongside increased inspections on track, the IHRB veterinary team is keen to work with trainers and their vets in advance of any planned return to racing to maximise understanding of and care around the horses and to ensure their suitability to race.


The IHRB is committed to fulfilling its role in promoting and protecting horse care and safety, and thereby minimising injuries to racehorses. Modification of race-day veterinary inspections using our findings from EIIRRR to specifically target those horses which may be at increased relative risk of injury is the first step in a series of measures to be implemented.  Irish equine injury data will continue to be collected and monitored on an ongoing basis.  

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