Renewed spotlight on racehorse welfare, aftercare


International Federation of Horseracing Authorities Chairman Louis Romanet addresses this week's IFHA conference.
International Federation of Horseracing Authorities Chairman Louis Romanet addresses this week’s IFHA conference.

World racing authorities are keeping a close eye on racehorse welfare and aftercare, as well as genetic manipulation and raceday medications.

They were among the topics raised by International Federation of Horseracing Authorities Chairman Louis Romanet at the organisation’s 50th Conference in Paris on Monday.

With a look toward the future, Romanet talked about the need to work alongside the International Stud Book Committee and stud books around the world to monitor any developments that threaten the Thoroughbred breed, such as genetic and cellular manipulation; the desire to eradicate raceday medication on all continents and out-of-competition testing; the importance of advancing progressive horse welfare policies; providing aftercare solutions; and facilitating the movement of horses in a responsible and efficient manner.

The first Conference, held in 1967, was chaired by Romanet’s father, Jean Romanet, and there were 14 attendees from nine countries. This week’s conference, held in the offices of France Galop, hosted delegates from 52 countries with several other racing executives in attendance.

Romanet noted the accomplishments of the past 50 years of the annual forum, and the most recent milestone touched upon was the IFHA’s partnership with Longines, which began three years ago. The partnership has transformed the Federation’s approach to external communication and also has led to the most prestigious awards in international horse racing.

Honorary FEI President Princess Haya is introduced by Louis Romanet.
Honorary FEI President Princess Haya is introduced by Louis Romanet.

The Conference’s keynote address was delivered by Princess Haya Al Hussein, who served as president for the FEI from 2006 to 2014. Now an honorary president of the organisation, Princess Haya led the global equestrian sports governing body to several significant milestones.

“Together, over the last nine years, the FEI and IFHA have climbed some huge mountains, and while each Federation enjoys complete autonomy and individuality, both exist for one reason and one reason only — the horse,” she said on Monday.

“And no matter how many differences the industries believe they have, that shared jewel means that what affects one must affect the other. But also, what can be achieved together, is far greater than what can ever be done in isolation.”

The other main sessions of the Conference were led by the three Vice-Chairmen of the IFHA. Horse Racing Ireland Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh oversaw the topic “Promoting and Attracting Racehorse Ownership”, Jockey Club (USA) President and COO Jim Gagliano moderated a panel titled, “Providing Aftercare Solutions at a Global Level”, and Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges chaired the session “Strategies to Secure and Grow Revenues for Racing.”


During the conference, the 2016 Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit was awarded to the Romanet Family. The award honored for the fourth time the lifelong contributions of distinguished personalities in Thoroughbred racing.

Louis Romanet has chaired the IFHA since its inception in 1994. His father, Jean, kept up the efforts of his own father, René Romanet, and uncle, Maurice Romanet, to regulate French racing and was a strong supporter of re-building Paris’ Longchamp racecourse, as well as the training center of Chantilly. His influence extended beyond national and continental borders as he tirelessly encouraged international cooperation between racing ruling bodies. He was involved in developing the pattern race system in Europe, which provided the basis for North American graded stakes system.

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