Unlike bananas, the tentacles of EU standardisation have yet to reach the rules for the shoeing of thoroughbreds for racing. Yet it is perhaps one area where standardisation would be uncontroversial and beneficial to all.
WORDS: TONY LINDSELL PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK
T the moment, the intricacies of the rules vary considerably from country to country, born, no doubt, of historical circumstance and arbitrary decision-making by the various authorities. Luca Cumani – whose filly Volume was found to be wearing shoes that did not meet the Irish Rules before the 2014 Irish Oaks and had to be re-shod, ultimately finishing third, beaten two necks – is one trainer who certainly thinks that standardisation of the rules would be of benefit. Another is Sir Mark Prescott, who took Albamara to race in Germany unshod behind, only to be told that this was not permitted. Though his representative offered to have her shod, the authorities on the racecourse said that there was no time, and as a result she could not run. The IFHA (International Federation of Horseracing Authorities), of which most European racing countries are members, does have a section in the International Agreement, which is as follows: Article 7 (Racing) – Shoeing of Racehorses 1.) Racing Authorities should ensure that, within their Rules, it is made explicit that they have the power to prevent the use in races of shoes which may be considered dangerous and liable to cause injury. 2.) Racing Authorities are encouraged to publish clear illustrations in support of such Rules, in order that practitioners, both domestic and foreign, fully understand the terms used and the features of the shoes which are either allowed or disallowed. 3.) Racing Authorities may wish to establish Rules to prevent the elective running of horses unshod or partially shod. Where horses are allowed to race other than fully shod, it is recommended that a requirement be introduced for this to be subject to declaration and inclusion within prerace information. 4.) Racing Authorities should establish procedures whereby shoes are regularly checked prior to racing.
Within Europe, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain (interestingly with the exception of Number 3 above), Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland have all signed up to this agreement, as has Turkey. Essentially, then, each country’s rules must address two questions – A) does a horse have to be shod in a race and, if so, is this on all four feet or can it be shod just in front; and B) what type and features of shoes or racing plates are permissible.
Shoeing for racing
In the U.K., a horse can run barefoot, or can be shod only in front. “There is currently no requirement for a horse to be shod to race. A horse is permitted to race barefoot or partially shod,” said Jenny Hall, Chief Veterinary Officer of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). There is also a further rule relating to re-shoeing at the start which permits a horse to be re-shod if it loses a plate on the way to or at the start, provided that a farrier is present, the starter considers that there is sufficient time, and the trainer has indicated this as his preference at declaration. In Ireland, there is no rule prohibiting a horse from running without shoes, but Vincent Hughes, Integrity Support Officer at the Turf Club, explained that Rule 225 could come into play. This rule states: “When a horse has slipped or fallen on the flat in a race the Stewards shall enquire into the reason and order the examination of the horse. If, in their opinion, inadequate or inappropriate shoeing of the horse was a contributory factor to the slip or fall the trainer may be liable to a fine of not less than Euros 130.” In France, the relevant rule (Art. 138 of the Code des Courses au Galop) has recently been changed. It states that trainers are not allowed to declare a horse that is not shod on all four feet to run in a race. However, in exceptional cases, the France Galop stewards can give
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