Australian Turf Club inquiry launched

Stewards from Racing NSW have opened an inquiry in to alleged animal cruelty by the Mounted Division of the Australian Turf Club (ATC).

Allegations of mistreatment, illegal sedation and cruelty to horses surfaced in a Sydney Morning Herald report last month.

Racing NSW began to act following a mid-January incident at the Falls Music & Arts Festival near Byron Bay, where a horse and its female rider were injured.

Six horses at the centre of the allegations have been transported from their Centennial Park stable to a spelling farm while the investigation is in progress.

Horses in the ATC’s Mounted Division are retrained from racehorses retrained for everyday life.

The animals perform ceremonial duties, appear as props in photo shoots and work in the private security sector.

ATC chief executive Darren Pearce told Fairfax Media that the horses in the program are in good health.

“When these concerns were raised, we immediately worked with Racing NSW to have the horses spelled as a precaution, and checked independently by vets,” he said.

“The ATC welcomes the inquiry and the chance for our staff to defend themselves against the claims.”

SAM WORRAD