In support of stud owners, trainers and UK stables, UK racing has announced the creation of a ‘Racehorse Relief Fund’ operated by the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) to alleviate the financial difficulties brought about by the ongoing global COVID-19 crisis.
The ROA fund has gained permission from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to act as a UK racing relief scheme, sponsored directly by the Racing Foundation ‘s central charity.
In its statement, the ROA stressed the urgent need to steer funds without any guaranteed source of income to owners who have felt the brunt of a disrupted racing season, having to sustain facilities, welfare and training costs.
“A survey undertaken by the ROA and NTF in April 2020 indicated that, from the 30% of trainers that responded, there were already 77 owners unable to pay training fees and over 1,500 horses possibly at risk of being abandoned.” detailed the ROA.
Established in 1945, the ROA supports, safeguards and sustains stakeholders in racehorse ownership and welfare across the UK, maintaining an active membership of 7,900 owners of racehorse.
Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of ROA, said that a relief fund was required to preserve animal welfare, while also supporting the financial stability of racing at a crucial time for owners ‘assessing the right path for their businesses, whether in racing or beyond.’
“This is about protecting horses and livelihoods. As the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis continue to crystallise it is clear that some owners will be financially affected and no longer able to sustain training fees” Liverton said.
“As a last resort, we hope that this fund will help horses, trainers and owners find a solution that meets the high standards of welfare we expect and provides some financial stability to training yards.”
A financial lifeline will be offered by the ROA relief fund, enabling horses to continue in approved yards and enabling owners to pay regular ‘out of training expenses for up to three months,’ as it is possible to decide the most suitable future for the horse.
Rob Hezel, CEO of the Racing Foundation, commented in favour of the ROA ‘s directive: “The Racing Foundation is proud to be supporting the RRF as the industry looks to minimise the hardship created by COVID-19 on its participants both human and equine.
“Equine abandonment is a concern for the sport during this period given the massive financial impact of COVID-19. The fund will provide a vital safety net to protect horses and prevent welfare issues occurring.”