Wednesday, September 29, 2021Contact: Andrew Chesser
Virtual IFHA Conference Looks Toward Racing’s Future

The 55th International Conference of Horseracing Authorities, organised by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), is scheduled to be held virtually for the second consecutive year, with a focus on global racing’s evolution and future challenges.

Historically held in Paris, France, the day after the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), this year’s conference will be released digitally on Thursday 7 October.

The conference will feature a keynote speech given by incoming IFHA Chair Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, who was recently elected as the new leader of the Federation following Louis Romanet’s retirement, as well as several panel discussions.

“Under Louis Romanet’s leadership, the Federation has made significant progress in achieving its mission as a vehicle for harnessing our collective efforts for the benefit of the future development and prosperity of Thoroughbred racing,” said Engelbrecht-Bresges. “It is a privilege to commence my term as the second Chair in the Federation’s history, and I am energised at the prospect of working with our members and stakeholders to build on the Federation’s sound foundations.”

Beyond the pandemic, racing faces further threats and challenges which will need to be tackled head-on in order for the sport to continue to grow and thrive, and the Conference’s guest speakers will address several of those issues. Topics to be covered include digitalisation and media; equine welfare; and climate change and sustainability. Respected presenter Rishi Persad returns again this year to serve as moderator. 

The segment on digitalisation and media will examine how racing must adapt and integrate new technologies and approaches to connect with the next generation of fans. FOX Sports's Executive Vice President, Head of Strategy and Analytics, Michael Mulvihill will discuss his experience in the field. Mulvihill is responsible for scheduling, strategic planning, Nielsen ratings analysis, and advertising sales and communications support within FOX Sports and helped facilitate the successful partnership between his organization and the New York Racing Association (NYRA).

Equine welfare will also take the spotlight during the Conference, with a particular focus on the need for comprehensive traceability as well as retirement systems and pathways. Jamie Stier and Di Arbuthnot will converse on the progress of equine welfare in these areas around the world. Stier serves as Racing Victoria’s executive manager, integrity services, and in this role, he is responsible for equine welfare, veterinary services, stewarding, investigations and compliance, licensing, and prosecution of cases for integrity services. He was appointed Chair of the IFHA Horse Welfare Committee in 2015. Arbuthnot is the chief executive for Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), Great Britain’s official charity concerning the welfare of retired racehorses. She also is the Chair of the International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses (IFAR) and has been instrumental in the formation of the forum in order to share best practices globally.

Additionally, the threat posed by climate change to all industries, including racing and sport, and the expected opportunities and challenges to racing and breeding in achieving net zero emission will be featured. Allen Hershkowitz will present information on climate change and the importance of sustainability, and then he will discuss his presentation with Persad. A Founding Director and Chairman of Sport and Sustainability International, Hershkowitz is currently Environmental Science Advisor to the New York Yankees, the first role of its kind in professional sports.

The videos from the International Conference of Horseracing Authorities will be posted on the IFHA’s website and social media platforms.

The first International Conference of Horseracing Authorities was organised and hosted by the Société d'Encouragement in Paris, France, on October 9, 1967. Since 1994, the annual conference has been organised by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities at France Galop. In 2019, the Conference convened delegates from more than 50 different countries with a number of other racing executives and media members in attendance. In 2020, it transitioned to a virtual format as the result of COVID-19, and in January, it was announced that the Japan Racing Association (JRA) has become the official partner of this year’s Conference.

About IFHA

The IFHA is the global leader for the international sport of Thoroughbred racing, seeking to promote all facets of the worldwide sport; protect the welfare of the equine and human athlete; and protect and grow its global social and economic significance for current and future generations. br />

Major areas of the IFHA’s activities include:

    • Making and amending the International Agreement on Breeding, Racing and Wagering (the IABRW)
    • Policy development relating to welfare and safety of horses and riders
    • International Race Planning and Grading (“black type”)
    • World Rankings
    • The fight against Equine Prohibited Substances and Practices
    • Harmonization of Racing Rules
    • Certification of IFHA Reference Labs
    • Fostering commercial development of the racing industry globally

The IFHA is a foundation member with Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) of the International Horse Sports Confederation and is affiliated to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

About JRA

Japan Racing Association was established in 1954 as a public entity to ensure the integrity of horseracing and the development and improvement in the breeding of racehorses and other livestock in Japan. JRA operates the nationwide network of 10 racecourses and over 30 off-course betting facilities and engages in activities concerning the direct or indirect development and operation of national horseracing.

JRA contributes to improvement of livestock breeding and to public and social welfare from its turnover to the National Treasury.

For a digital book about JRA initiatives, please visit

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