Retirement Statistics

The retirement and end of life statistics set out above are based on the retirement destination or reason for the implementation of an end of life scenario at the time of a Thoroughbreds’ departure from the Thoroughbred racing industry during the 2019/2020 racing season (August 1st – July 30). As notified to Racing Australia by the Thoroughbred’s last registered owner or trainer.

These statistics do not account for Thoroughbred movements including, end of life following the Thoroughbreds’ departure from the Racing Industry.


Equestrian/pleasure/working/companion horse - 60%

Breeding purposes - 19%

Euthanised - 10%

Died (natural causes) - 7%

Official PRA retirement program - 2%

Other - 2%


The racing career of a thoroughbred may cease at any time for any number of reasons. Racing Australia and its associated Principal Racing Authorities take their duty of care for retired racehorses very seriously. Racing Australia has led Thoroughbred racing globally in introducing reforms and rules to improve integrity and animal welfare; in fact Britain has adopted similar measure from January 1 this year.

  • Figures collected over the past 3 years reveal that 9 out of 10 racehorses retire to either begin second careers as an equestrian, pleasure or working horse or to the breeding sector.
  • The Principal Racing Authorities (PRAs), who work closely with Racing Australia, each have their own programs in place to assist with the re-homing of racehorses after they retire. Each PRA takes a different approach to the programs they have in place but the overall core vision is the same across the board.
  • The beginning of this process is raising awareness in the public eye of the many ways thoroughbreds can be re-trained after they finish their racing career. They are loyal and courageous animals who can adapt to many different training methods outside of racing, or can simply act as pleasure or companion horses.
  • Thoroughbreds are bred to be competitive and perform as elite athletes. The programs in place by relevant PRAs have a duty of care to the persons purchasing them to disclose details about the individual animal. This will include things such as their history and temperament which is imperative for the safety of those who will be associated with the animal in the future.
  • One of the main avenues for re-homing thoroughbreds is in the equestrian field, where their athletic ability and willingness to be trained comes to the forefront.
  • Other initiatives by some PRAs in Australia include; donating a specified percentage of total prizemoney to animal welfare projects and covering transports costs for owners to take the racehorses to their new homes.

Mandatory Retirement 

In order to protect the welfare of both thoroughbreds and riders Racing Australia implemented the following rules regarding the mandatory age of retirement:

AR 78 12+ year old horses
(1) Subject to subrule (2), if a horse is aged 12 years or more:
      (a) the horse is ineligible for; and
      (b) a person must not enter or start the horse in,
      any race.
(2) The Stewards may give their express permission for a horse aged 12 years to start in a
race/s during its 12 year old racing season, if:
     (a) the trainer provides to the Stewards a veterinary report in respect of the horse’s
     condition and suitability to race, and any other information, examination or report
     as required by the Stewards; and
     (b) the Stewards are satisfied that the horse is suitable to race.
(3) Any permission granted by the Stewards under subrule (2) expires at the conclusion of
the horse’s 12 year old racing season, or earlier as provided by the Stewards.
(4) Upon a horse turning 13 years of age, it is immediately retired and de-registered under
these Australian Rules and is ineligible to race, trial or be trained.
(5) If a horse aged 12 years participates in any race without the permission of the Stewards
in accordance with this rule, or if a horse over 12 years participates in a race, the horse
may be disqualified from the relevant race.


Official Principal Racing Authority (PRA) Retirement Program Links

For more information in relation to retirement programs in each state, please follow the below links to the Principal Racing Authority (PRA) websites.

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