Thursday, October 07, 2021Contact: Andrew Chesser
Racing’s Future in the Spotlight during Virtual IFHA Conference

Today featured the launch of the 55th International Conference of Horseracing Authorities, organised by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA). Held virtually for the second consecutive year, the 2021 Conference examines global racing’s evolution and future challenges. The Japan Racing Association (JRA) is the official partner of this year’s Conference.

Video of the International Conference of Horseracing Authorities is available on the IFHA’s website and social media platforms. Podcasts of the speakers are also available.

The keynote speech was given by incoming IFHA Chair Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, who was recently elected as the new head of the Federation following Louis Romanet’s retirement. Following his speech, the Conference featured panels on digitalisation and media; equine welfare; and climate change and sustainability. The Conference concluded with a tribute to Romanet, who is retiring after 27 years as Chairman and who was appointed to the honorary position of Chairman Emeritus effective 4 October 2021.  

“The 55th International Conference of the IFHA comes at a most significant time for our sport and the world,” said Engelbrecht-Bresges. “We face major macro challenges arising from the pandemic and climate change.  More than ever, we must work together and harness the wealth of talent and expertise within our membership to not only face these challenges, but ensure that our sport thrives in the short, medium, and long term.

“This Conference gives us the opportunity to look forward at some key parts of the IFHA’s strategy for the future. We are fortunate to have world-class speakers sharing their insights regarding digitalisation and media, equine welfare, climate change and sustainability.”

Guest speakers at this year’s Conference included Michael Mulvihill, executive vice president, head of strategy and analytics at FOX Sports; Jamie Stier, chair of the IFHA Horse Welfare Committee and Racing Victoria’s executive general manager, integrity services; Di Arbuthnot, the chief executive for Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) and chair of the International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses (IFAR); and Allen Hershkowitz, a founding director and chairman of Sport and Sustainability International and environmental science advisor to the New York Yankees. Respected presenter Rishi Persad returned this year to serve as moderator.

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 IFHA 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. Historically held the day after the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), the Conference transitioned to a virtual format in 2020 as the result of COVID-19.

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.

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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