Racehorse aftercare reaches new level in Australia’s NSW

“Bandanora” at Capertee north of Lithgow, is now owned by Racing NSW.
“Bandanora” at Capertee north of Lithgow, is now owned by Racing NSW.

The future is looking brighter for thoroughbreds in Australia’s New South Wales, with the state’s racing body announcing a ban on sending horses for slaughter and a new property bought for the retraining of racehorses.

Racing NSW has bought a 2600 acre property at Capertee to be used for the rehabilitation, retraining and rehoming of thoroughbreds after their racing careers. It was bought by its Equine Welfare Fund, which is funded by 1% of all prizemoney paid in NSW, bringing in more than $2 million a year.

In announcing the ban, which was yet to be ratified, Racing NSW animal welfare officer Graham Hinton said the organisation wanted to ensure no horses ended up at the knackery.

“We’ve had a rule in place for the last two years that obliges owners and trainers to submit to us a final destination for their horse, and those statistics are quite positive,” he said.

“[Only] 0.4 per cent of retiring thoroughbreds in Australia have ended up in an abattoir. We believe in NSW that we can make that number nil.”

Bandanora has a 66m x 25m indoor arena.
Bandanora has a 66m x 25m indoor arena.

The ban is part of an industry plan to invest 1 per cent of prize money into animal welfare.

The new property at Capertee that Racing NSW now owns is 40 minutes north of Lithgow and includes state-of-the-art equestrian facilities. The Bandanora property has had only two owners in 170 years, dating back to 1851. It was farmed by the Corlis family, who moved to the area in 91841 after arriving from Ireland. The Corlis family retained Bandanora until the previous owners, a former major shareholder of Sunbeam, bought the property. There are many Sunbeam relics on Bandanora.

There, horses will be retrained to find new homes in equestrian sports, pony club, polo and as pleasure horses. It will also be used as a location for industry training and as a home for retired champions of the turf.

Racing NSW’s Equine Welfare Fund was established in October 2015, with the purpose of ensuring that all NSW domiciled thoroughbred horses will be appropriately cared for outside of their racing careers. This includes ex-racehorses as well as those horses who never made it to the racetrack.

Bandanora's 10 stables all have run-out yards. There's also feed and tack rooms, a wash bay and veterinary crush.
Bandanora’s 10 stables all have run-out yards. There’s also feed and tack rooms, a wash bay and a veterinary crush.

Racing NSW has also established a dedicated Equine Welfare team, including an Equine Welfare Veterinarian, exclusively for the rehoming of thoroughbreds after their racing careers.

Racing NSW Chairman Russell Balding said the new property was a major investment.

“Not only for the rehabilitation of racehorses which is a paramount objective of the board, but also as an investment for the future as a land bank that could have a multitude of uses for the NSW Thoroughbred Racing Industry in the future.”

The 1890s-built nine-bedroom farmhouse will be converted to a Bed and Breakfast and there are 10 authentic shearers huts for a unique accommodation experience for a weekend destination for people wanting to buy a retrained thoroughbred.

Eco-tourism activities such as trout fishing, four wheel driving, organic pick-your-own cooking and trail riding will be established at the property as part of the farmstay experience.

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