The first International Conference of Horseracing Authorities was organized and hosted by the Société d'Encouragement in Paris, France, on October 9, 1967. Since 1994, the annual conference has been organized at France Galop headquarters by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.
The first meeting had 14 attendees from nine countries. Today’s Conference convened delegates from over 50 different countries with a number of other racing executives and media members in attendance including members of the Asian Racing Federation.
“First and foremost, I want to thank our delegates in attendance and each of our members from all over the world,” said IFHA Chairman Louis Romanet, who led the conference and presented the IFHA’s strategic plan going forward.
“I’m very proud of the accomplishments of our Federation and its technical committees under the leadership of many of you here today. But with that said, there is considerably more work to be done. Uniformity remains of utmost importance for our sport.
“The most substantial effort made in the past three years was to create a Reference Lab Certification Program with an aim to augment the quality of testing around the world and to appoint a series of analytical sites that satisfy a high benchmark that includes the scale of operations, resourcing, research activity and capability to detect the use of prohibited substances, including the major doping agents.”
The other main morning session of the conference focused on wagering, with discussions held concerning the rise of world pools, harnessing technology, and measures to increase field sizes.
Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, who is one of the co-chairmen of the IFHA, led the session, and the panel also included Hernan Lavallen (Latin American Racing Channel), Richard Cheung (HKJC), and Martin Panza (New York Racing Association).
William Lambe, executive director for the British Horseracing Authority delivered an update on the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan for British racing published by the Diversity in Racing Steering Group (DiRSG). Dr Kanichi Kusano of the Japan Racing Association concluded the morning session with an update on gene doping control and challenges it poses for horse racing integrity in both breeding and racing.
The introduction of a new IFHA affiliate member candidate, the Equestrian Federation of Iran, started the afternoon sessions, followed by panels on jockey welfare and rules harmonisation.
Chaired by Denis Egan, the chief executive of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, the jockey welfare segment examined the findings of mental health research and future plans for studies; practical work with jockeys; and an overview of pressures facing jockeys. Dr. Adrian McGoldrick, Dr. Giles Warrington, and Dr. Ciara Losty also took part.
Following that, a panel on rules harmonisation took place, led by Kim Kelly, the HKJC chief stipendiary steward and chairman of the IFHA harmonisation of raceday rules committee. Joining Kelly were Henri Pouret (France Galop), Brant Dunshea (BHA), Oscar Bertoletti (OSAF - Organización Sudamericana de Fomento del Sangre Pura de Carrera), and Australian racing consultant Dominic Beirne.
"I would like to commend the countries that have taken action since the adoption of the model protest rule. France and Germany adopted Category 1 rules earlier this year, while Argentina and Panama underwent changes this September that put South America entirely under Category 1 rules as well."