Department of Agriculture funded Veterinary Welfare Commission leads Irish Harness Racing industry to become world leader for horse welfare and anti-doping.
In light of the Programme for Government set out by Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party to have funding to the equine industry be related to horse welfare outcomes the newly established Veterinary and Welfare Commission (VWC), funded by the Department of Agriculture to help regulate the integrity of the Irish Harness Racing industry, are announcing that all regulatory medical records for the Irish standardbred community will be moving from paper to a digital system. This will ensure that records can not be lost, damaged or tampered with once closed on the system greatly increasing transparency and accountability in relation to anti-doping and equine welfare for the sport of harness racing across Ireland.
Together, thanks to support from the Irish Department of Agriculture, VWC and the Irish Harness Racing Association (IHRA) have commissioned world leaders in anti-doping and equine welfare software, Equine MediRecord, and are mandating this system for all of the horses that fall under their regulatory scope.
While other regulators have switched to digital records for horses in training and competition, Harness Racing under the remit of the IHRA and its integrity arm, the VWC, is now the first equine sport to make it a mandatory regulation that digital medical records be maintained by breeders and keepers of standardbred horses, ensuring a continuous flow of data on the horse throughout its life. This is the first time that an equine industry will ensure that the records of a horse are digitally kept from birth to death. It is the first equine sport to do so, anywhere in the world. These changes ensure proper tracking of medical histories, making it easier for vets, trainers, keepers and owners to ensure better outcomes for horses under their care. This ensures that Irish Standardbred Industry is a world leader in animal welfare for all of its horses from birth to the end of their days.
“Funding for animal welfare in any sport that involves animals is always welcome and it is especially welcome in these formative years of the exciting sport of Harness Racing in Ireland” said Peadar Ó Scanaill, MVB, Chairman of the Veterinary and Welfare Commission. “Harness Racing in Ireland is growing and maturing into an extremely exciting equine racing sport and it has always set itself the highest and best of standards with regard to animal welfare from the very outset. It carries out all its racing on the track and it strives to instil public confidence in Harness Racing as it distances itself from any form of horses running on the road”.
The VWC was established in 2015 by the IHRA as the integrity body within the sport of Harness Racing. Its funding comes from within the sport itself through a Memorandum of Understanding agreed with the Board of the IHRA with some financial assistance from the Department of Agriculture. Its aim is to ensure animal welfare reaches the highest standard possible and its mission is to instil public confidence both inside and outside the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland. Its role within the IHRA is to cover all aspects of the integrity of the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland, with similar duties to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board for thoroughbred racing.
The VWC, with this newly announced Department of Agriculture funding, boasts some of the top equine veterinarians in Ireland. Peadar Ó Scanaill, the founding head of the VWC, was the President of the Veterinary Council of Ireland in 2018 – 2019. The Veterinary Council is mandated by the government to regulate and manage the practice of all veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing in Ireland in the public interest. This means that Mr Ó Scanaill, MVB, brings the perfect experience and expertise for this new regulatory role. He is joined by Marcus Swail, MVB, the founder of EquiVET and Team Ireland Equestrian Olympic team’s veterinary surgeon, who is the deputy head of the new VWC. The formation of the VWC is a great boost to ensuring and improving the integrity of the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland.
Pierce Dargan, CEO of Equine MediRecord stated, “We are delighted to see further steps towards better equine care in the world. We are proud and delighted that the VWC and the IHRA decided to partner with us for this project and we hope this will be the beginning of meaningful change that helps improve outcomes for horses and the industry as a whole.”
The Irish Harness Racing Association is the internationally recognised governing body of harness racing in Ireland. It is a member of the Union of European Trotting (UET) and World Trotting Association. The IHRA works closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (in Dublin) to develop the sport both domestically and internationally.
Equine MediRecord is the global leader in equine anti-doping and horse welfare software. It currently operates in Ireland, the UK and France and recently partnered with the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) in the UK to make the ARO the first in Europe and second in the world to mandate electronic medical records be kept by their registered trainers. Equine MediRecord based on the Curragh, county Kildare, has availed of many Local Enterprise Office Kildare financial and advisory supports as well as representing Kildare in the National Final for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition.
For more information about Equine MediRecord, see: https://www.equinemedirecord.com/