Winx trainer says racing’s social licence at risk

Champion horse trainer Chris Waller says the Australian racing sector will lose its social licence to operate if it does not find an industry-wide solution to allegations that former race horses are being mistreated and slaughtered when their careers are over.

Mr Waller, who trained champion mare Winx and will have two strong chances in Saturday’s Cox Plate, said allegations of mistreatment, aired in a confronting report on ABC television’s 7.30 program, should be a turning point for the sector.

“I am really glad that actually this has been brought to light,” he said at trackwork at Moonee Valley racecourse on Tuesday morning.

“If we want the sport to be welcomed by the community we have to do everything it takes to make sure that those scenes are never visited again. It’s as simple as that.

“It’s our duty to make sure every horse is respected for every breath they take. I will be making sure personally that I can do as much as I can and the feedback that I am getting from other trainers is the same.”

Mr Waller’s comments came as the NSW Trainers Association called for the installation of a federal racing minister to co-ordinate the industry’s response.

The group also wants the country’s two biggest sales companies, Inglis and Magic Millions, to pay a levy on every horse they sell to help fund welfare programs.

Mr Waller said the industry had several initiatives to re-home former race horses, but more needed to be done.

“We can’t just stop there. We’ve got to make sure it’s followed through – that where we think the horses are going to they are actually going there.

“The fact is any horse, whether it be a thoroughbred or a hobby horse, needs to be treated with respect.”

Mr Waller’s group one winner Kings Will Dream successfully made the final Cox Plate field on Tuesday morning, after the Moonee Valley Race Club controversially left top-line gallopers Humidor and Mr Quickie out of the main field.

Kings Will Dream suffered a bad injury in last year’s Cox Plate and was lucky to survive. Mr Waller said he was thrilled the horse was back in form.

“To get him back to the races was one thing, but to get him back in winning form in a group one last start was very good.” – Australian Financial Review.