BHA confirms changes to the Rules of Racing

  • All horses entered to run in a race in Britain must be signed out of the human food chain via its passport by 1 January 2022
  • Equine Influenza vaccination requirements updated, in line with other European racing nations
  • Rules regarding use of bisphosphonates updated, in line with European harmonised position

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today confirmed several changes to the Rules of British racing which are scheduled to come into effect in the coming months.

These Rule changes have been approved by the BHA Board, following engagement with and feedback from participants and stakeholders.

Signing racehorses out of the human food chain

All horses entered to run in a race in Britain must be signed out of the human food chain via its passport by 1 January 2022.

From this date, any Entry for a Race, or Confirmation of Entry in respect of Early Closers, will not be accepted for any horse unless it has been declared as not intended for human consumption via the Weatherbys App and horse’s passport.

The decision to permanently exclude horses entered to run from the human food chain was agreed unanimously by the BHA’s cross-industry Veterinary Committee at its meeting on 28 January 2021, further to wider industry consultation and approval by the Rules Committee and BHA Board in September.

The rule applies to all horses which are trained in Great Britain. The BHA is also liaising with international jurisdictions and examining EU legislation regarding the practical implementation of this Rule to include all international runners.

In Great Britain, being signed out of the human food chain also excludes horses from entering the animal food chain, which is regulated to the same standard as the human food chain. All updates relating to the animal’s food chain status can now be recorded digitally using the Weatherbys ePassport.

James Given, Director of Equine Health and Welfare for the BHA, said:

“The sport’s Veterinary Committee made the decision to exclude racehorses who run in Britain from the food chain in January of this year. It was subsequently put out to consultation with the racing industry prior to being approved by the Rules Committee and finally by the BHA Board in September.

“British racing has in place a euthanasia code of practice to aid trainers and owners with end-of-life decisions. The guidance is clear that whenever possible, euthanasia should be performed at home or in suitable surroundings.

“The transporting of horses to an abattoir to be sold for consumption should not, in my view, be classed as euthanasia and is not an approach that we should tolerate in our sport, which is why a rule preventing this practice is a positive step. I am confident that most British trainers and owners agree with me on this and already observe this principle.”

Amendments to the equine influenza vaccine requirements

From 1 January 2022, the primary course and booster interval schedule for Equine Influenza vaccinations will be amended, including a reduction in the current annual booster requirement to six monthly intervals.

The European Horserace Scientific Liaison Committee (EHSLC) Board approved this change to vaccination protocols in October 2019, following consideration of advice from experts in equine infectious disease.

As communicated by the BHA in November 2019, it was initially proposed that the harmonisation changes come into effect from January 2021, subject to consultation with participants in each racing jurisdiction, which was subsequently delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The harmonised EHSLC primary course and six-monthly booster intervals will now come into effect from 1 January 2022, with the BHA and Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) taking a coordinated approach to implementation.

The amended primary course intervals will apply to all horses starting a new primary course from 1 January 2022 onwards – horses with a compliant primary course and compliant subsequent boosters up to and including 31 December 2021 will not have to re-start their vaccinations.

Trainers will be asked to implement the amended booster interval as soon as practicable. but to assist with the implementation of these changes with minimal disruption to training, horses should be fully compliant with the new requirements by 1 January 2023.

The new primary course and booster intervals were implemented in both France and Germany on 5 May 2021, so horses entered to race in these jurisdictions must already be compliant with the new requirements.

Bisphosphonates – amendment to rule

The Rule for the administration of bisphosphonates will be updated in line with EHSLC harmonised position, to be applied when bisphosphonates are detected in horses under the age of four.

Effective immediately, a horse must not have been administered with any bisphosphonate:

  • before it is aged four years (as of 01 January of the horse’s year of birth);
  • on raceday or any of the 30 clear days before.

Any horse which is administered therapeutic bisphosphonates under the age of four years will not be qualified to run under the Rules of Racing until:

  • For horses aged 4 years or over – receipt of a negative test;
  • For horses aged between 2 and 4 years – completion of a 12-month suspension from racing and receipt of a negative test; and
  • For horses aged under 2 years – completion of a minimum 12-month suspension from racing, reached 3 years of age and receipt of a negative test.