The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced that, as of 19 January 2018, racecards will be able to carry information that confirms when a horse is having its first run after having undergone a wind surgery.

This has been introduced with the needs of the sport’s betting customer as the focus, and in the interests of openness and transparency. A survey led by the Horseracing Bettors Forum (HBF) recently found that information on wind surgeries is the piece of information most requested by the betting public.

As well as enhanced data for betting customers – and the beneficial impact this will also have on the integrity of betting markets – this development will also allow the BHA to collect research data on the nature, frequency and impact of wind surgeries on racehorses.

David Sykes, Director of Equine Health and Welfare for the BHA, said:

“Wind operations are routine surgical procedures which are designed to assist a horse with its breathing. We have identified a list of five of the most relevant and frequent surgeries, which we are asking trainers to declare.

“We believe it is reasonable that the betting customers will take it as read that the trainer, owner, and their veterinarian will have performed the most appropriate surgery to address the issue with the specific horse.

“Assumptions on the impact of the surgery on the horse’s form should rest entirely with the betting customer. It is understood that not all wind surgeries are successful…but some clearly are. Because of this, it is our view that the information should be in the public domain, and the betting customer should be given the opportunity to assess the value of the information.

“We are aware of the view that information about wind operations being made public may have an impact on bloodstock values. However, we place the importance of openness and transparency above this commercial interest.

“Moreover, the gathering of data from declared wind operations could be invaluable for equine welfare research and development in the future.”

The types of wind surgery required to be declared are:

  • Tie back (prosthetic laryngoplasty)
  • Hobday (ventriculectomy/cordectomy)
  • Epiglottic surgery
  • Tie forward (dorsal displacement soft palate surgery)
  • Soft palate cautery

Racecards carrying “WS” will not display the specific type of wind surgery.

The declaration of wind surgeries will only be required for horses which have previously raced, regardless of whether this was in Great Britain or elsewhere. The declaration of a wind surgery will be required prior to declarations for the horse’s first race start after it has been subjected to wind surgery. Where a horse is subjected to wind surgery on multiple occasions the declaration will be required on each occasion.

The requirement to declare wind surgeries will apply equally to horses trained in Great Britain and horses trained overseas which are racing in Great Britain.

In instances when the surgeries are not declared, and of which the BHA becomes aware, there will be a framework within the Rules to enable the non-compliance to be addressed. Non-compliance can be detected through, for example, accessing horses’ veterinary records, or other information gathered through the BHA’s regulatory processes.

Other aspects of data declaration, such as mares in foal, are currently being considered by the BHA, and further updates will be provided on this front in the new year.

This change to the rules will have implications for trainers, who will be responsible for declaring that the surgery has taken place. Details of the steps trainers will be required to take – which includes some immediate actions, and some on an ongoing basis – are outlined here.