France Galop is committed to the defence of certain ethical values in the areas of animal protection, the regulation of racing, and the preservation of the environment.
The Rules of Racing prohibit the medical treatment of any horse due to line up in a race. In the case of a positive test, the horse is disqualified, and its entourage – the trainer and its owners in particular, will most likely be subject to severe fines.
Measures taken to ensure that French racing is drug free are higher than any other sport in France, with an annual budget of €10 million being allocated to this by the FNCH (National Federation of French Racing).
Around 30,000 tests on thoroughbreds are made each year at the races in France. This is three times higher in comparison to the AFLD (French Anti-Doping Agency) for all other French sports.
Each winner of some 7,300 races organised each year in France is tested. Together with random testing, this represents 11,272 samples taken (urine and blood) out of the 77,757 runners a year.
Since 1995, a system of checks has been in place for horses in training in order to avoid unjustified medication. This includes preventing self-medication by trainers for horses and the presence of prohibited medicines.
With 900 of these checks per year, France is one of the most vigilant countries in this area.
All the actors in the world of racing in France must be approved by France Galop in order to invest in racehorses, i.e. to receive prize money and premiums, as well as those who work in the sport.
France Galop is in charge of the licensing for owners, trainers and jockeys, as well as checking that each horse is correctly registered in accordance with the Rules of Racing.
Each owner and professional must justify a certain level of revenue and/or competences to be accepted. This is also subject to agreement from the Interior Minister to avoid fraudulent owners and professionals entering into racing.
The Stewards ensure that each one of some 7,000 races each year in France is run under the Rules of Racing. Before each meeting, from the smallest to the biggest, they must be three people, without exception, before starting.
They also must not be directly or indirectly implicated in any runners during the meeting, and are prohibited from betting on any races that they have jurisidiction over. To be able to do their job in the best possible circumstances, they are aided by a number of assistants who are delegated to manage the identification of horses and organisation of the raceday. In addition, the Stewards have access to several different video angles and replays of the races. Their decisions are continually monitored by France Galop, and must put forward by their colleagues to continue to work in their roles, which are voluntary.
Ensuring the health of its professionals
Put under considerable pressure to maintain a light weight and still perform at the highest level – a jockey can lose 500 grams during a jump race – a jockey’s health is continually under surveillance and monitored by France Galop. This programme is frequently adjusted by the Jockeys’ Association to better suit their needs. Involved in an extreme sport, the jockeys’ desire to perform at their best must not be to the detriment of their health or by putting themselves and their colleagues in danger. Each one of the 500-600 professional jockeys and apprentices in France are monitored closely all year around.
The minimum riding weight of each rider is fixed at a yearly appointment with one of the 50 Doctors authorised by France Galop, who subsequently provides a health certificate for the jockey to be able to ride.
Nutritional programmes and continuous monitoring allows France Galop to help jockeys stay on an even keel with this minimum weight without having to take prohibited substances. During the 15 years that the system has been in place (the minimum weight has risen from 45kg to 51kg), the jockeys have learned to look after themselves better.
Every jockey is taught at the Jockeys’ School, known as the Afasec in France. This allows them to obtain not only a level of qualification on a par with the best in the world, but also a level of education that will enable them to reconvert to another career if necessary.
Since 2016, no Premium Meeting can take place without the presence of an emergency Doctor that is used to treating the unexpected and sometimes violent accidents that can happen, and that knows the precautionary measures necessary in the case of serious mishaps.
The presence of these specialists has already saved several lives, and although the medical treatment and equipment on racecourses has progressed enormously over the years, there are still considerable risks both to horses and riders.
Rewarding Stable Staff
France Galop guarantees the payment of a portion of a horse’s winnings to stable staff, who form an essential part of the industry.
Racing in general requires a lot of hard work, with each horse needing to be cared for, fed, trained, exercised, saddled, ridden, brushed, and of course stroked(!) etc. every day of the year. It is estimated that more than 70,000 people are impacted by the racing world in France, and lots of jobs, even if they are growing rarer in everyday life, cannot be learnt elsewhere than in racing.
Even if it is the jockeys who are more often in the spotlight, it is the people behind the scenes that should also be recognised as essential cogs in the machine. Since the summer of 2016, France Galop organises in conjunction with Godolphin, the Stable Staff and Breeding Awards, putting forward the invaluable work of the many men and women that work in the industry, and that couldn’t function without them.
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Together with its opposite number in trotting, Le Trot, the National Federation of the Horse, the French Equestrian Federation, the National Horse Group and the French Equine Veterinary Association, signed an agreement about horse welfare in March 2016 at the annual Agricultural Fair in Paris. This agreement laid out eight major points that should be maintained to guarantee an optimum environment for horses:
- Ensure adequate nutrition;
- Provide an adequate place to live;
- Promote physical and exploratory activity;
- Facilitate social contact;
- Ensure good health;
- Prevent pain;
- Ensure an end of life;
- A good man-horse relationship.
This commitment has also led to other initiatives dedicated to the welfare of the horse, a subject that is at the heart of our industry. France Galop also supports the retraining of racehorses through partnerships with the Horse Protection League and the Seconde Chance Stable. A new programme, Au-Dela Des Pistes, is also supported by France Galop.
On August 27, 2016, ADDP organised a day at the races that focused on promoting the retraining of racehorses. This featured the retired cracks Cirrus des Aigles, African Story, Papineau, and Kasbah Bliss. In presenting these champions to the public in their new vocation, France Galop and ADDP showed that it is possible for racehorses to adapt to a new life and succeed in a second career of leisurely riding activities.
France Galop also works to limit the possible injuries to horses in training and in competition. Over the last twenty years, all French racetracks, from the smallest to the biggest, have equipped their sites to reduce accidents and the subsequent consequences. The Rules of Racing have also been adjusted to safeguard the health of horses and jockeys and to protect them.
All horses are also examined by Veterinarians when they take part in races organised by France Galop, as well as upon their return from the track. Their vaccination records are also checked before each race. In view to anti-doping policies, French racing has always been at the forefront of medical technology to combat this.
Financing the Equine industry
France Galop participates in the financing of the equine industry in general through the funds Eperon I and II, with the same figure supplied by its equivalent in trotting, Le Trot.
In 2015, these funds amounted to €10,6 million, which went towards encouraging several societies, federations and organisations linked to equitation including: saving rare breeds, veterinary research and ethology, and to the French Horse Society (Eperon II). The later unites all the actors associated with the production, commercialisation and marketing of young horses and sports horses.
The Equitation Fund, which goes in its entirety towards the French Equestrian Federation, was made up to €16,34 million in 2015. This is intended to compensate for drops in activity in Equestrian Centres due to the increase in the VAT rate to 20%.
Both France Galop and Le Trot, together with the PMU, also fund Equidia Life, a channel dedicated to equitation, in addition to Equidia Live, the French racing channel.
Large equestrian events, including the World Equestrian Games and the Olympic Games, as well as the highlights of the international season are broadcast, often live, on Equidia Life to horse lovers across France.
Responsibility for the environment
The racecourses managed by France Galop are large areas of green space in an urban area. Anxious to preserve these habitats, France Galop integrated the protection of the environment into its strategy at the turn of the century. This compliance has led to the international certification ISO 14001 for the racecourses of Auteuil, Longchamp, and Saint Cloud. Future projects are, whenever possible, developed with an HQE® (High Environmental Quality) approach and BBC new buildings with a low-energy approach.
These commitments to the environment are designed to reduce the footprint of the sites through a reduction in consumption, better waste treatment and effective pollution prevention.
At a local level, a part of the betting turnover is returned to the local communities throughout France so that each one of these can benefit.
Largely financed by betting on racing, notably through the PMU, of which France Galop is a shareholder, racing must ensure that the social impact of betting is the lowest possible. The PMU is thus committed to combat addiction in all of its marketing as well as in its strategies.