The 57th International Conference of Horseracing Authorities, organized by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), will take place on Oct. 2 in Paris, France at Saint-Cloud Racecourse. This year’s Conference will focus on safeguarding equine welfare and exploring shifts in societal expectations as well as the racing industry’s response around the world. The Conference will examine both immediate concerns and forward-looking initiatives to protect and promote equine welfare.
“The wellbeing of the equine athlete must always be at the forefront of the decisions we make,” said IFHA Chair Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, who will deliver the Conference’s opening and closing remarks. “I look forward to sharing with the membership and key stakeholders the ways in which industry standards and practices are continuously enhanced, particularly through scientific advances in improving existing safeguards. The importance of our sport embracing an even more active role in public discourse on the issue and ensuring that our sport remains as a fully engaged and integral part of our communities cannot be understated.”
Acclaimed broadcaster Nick Luck will serve as the moderator for the Conference, which will begin with a discussion on horse racing in an evolving society. The opening keynote address will be delivered by Professor Natalie Waran, Chair of the Independent Commission for Equine Ethics and Wellbeing for the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI). She will highlight key strategies for equine sport to proactively respond to changing societal expectations and ways the sport can continue to support its equine athletes.
Following her keynote, a panel will bring together senior racing administrators to share their approaches and strategies to shape the narratives surrounding equine welfare and racing. Scheduled panelists include Lisa-Jane Graffard, General Secretary, Au-Delà des Pistes; Julie Harrington, Chief Executive, British Horseracing Authority (BHA); and Najja Thompson, Executive Director, New York Thoroughbred Breeders’ Inc. (NYTB).
After the panel discussion, an update on the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) in the United States will be given by its Chair, Charles Scheeler. He is expected to speak on HISA’s implementation of the Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) program, current events in racing in America, and future developments for the organization.
The next session of the Conference will focus on protecting the sport’s equine athletes. Leaders from racing administration and veterinary science will share their perspectives and insights on this critical topic. Expected speakers for this panel include James Given, Director of Equine Regulation, Safety and Welfare, BHA; Josh Rubinstein, President, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club; Brian Stewart, Head of Veterinary Clinical Services, The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC); and Sonia Wittreck, Stud Book & Doping Control, Head of Department, France-Galop.
Following that discussion, the final session of the Conference will focus on effective public engagement and response, particularly in relation to the issue of equine welfare. It will begin with a presentation from Nevin Truesdale, Chief Executive Officer, The Jockey Club (UK), who will share insights from his organization’s perspective, shedding light on its experiences with effective resolution and communication management. He will then be joined by Robert Green of Pierrepont Consulting and Analytics LLC on how racing can leverage data-based insights to develop more proactive policies.
Additionally, as part of the day’s events, the Japan Racing Association (JRA) will showcase the 40th Asian Racing Conference (ARC), which will be held in Sapporo, Japan in August/September 2024.
A live video stream of the International Conference of Horseracing Authorities will be available on the IFHA’s website. A replay of the live video stream and presentations will be available in the days following the event.
The first International Conference of Horseracing Authorities was organized and hosted by the Société d’Encouragement in Paris, France, on October 9, 1967. Since 1994, the annual conference has been organized by the IFHA. The first meeting had 14 attendees from nine countries, while last year’s Conference convened delegates from more than 40 different countries with a number of other racing executives and media members also in attendance. The JRA became the official partner of the Conference beginning in 2021.
The IFHA is the global leader for the international sport of Thoroughbred racing, seeking to promote all facets of the worldwide sport; protect the welfare of the equine and human athlete; and protect and grow its global social and economic significance for current and future generations.
Major areas of the IFHA’s activities include:
- Making and amending the International Agreement on Breeding, Racing and Wagering (the IABRW)
- Policy development relating to welfare and safety of horses and riders
- International Race Planning and Grading (“black type”)
- World Rankings
- The fight against Equine Prohibited Substances and Practices
- Harmonization of Racing Rules
- Certification of IFHA Reference Labs
- Fostering commercial development of the racing industry globally
The IFHA is a foundation member with Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) of the International Horse Sports Confederation and is affiliated to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).