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Covid-19 put over 1,500 racehorses at risk of being abandoned

An emergency fund has been set up to help owners suffering financial trouble as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after a study in April found more than 1,500 racehorses were at risk of being abandoned.

The Racehorse Relief Fund will help mitigate potential welfare issues due to Covid-19.

Figures from the Racehorse Owners Association, the organisation behind the initiative, plus the National Trainers Association, suggested 77 owners were unable to pay training fees as of six months ago, at the stables represented.

The RRF will provide valuable breathing space to trainers and horses to fully assess the right path for the animals affected, whether in racing or beyond.

Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the ROA, said: “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.

"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.”

The fund will have strict eligibility criteria to identify that all other options have been explored and the horse is definitely no longer affordable.

An independent panel will advise on applications, while they will initially be financed by the Racing Foundation.

Chief executive Rob Hezel said: "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.”

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