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Concerns for Animal Welfare in the Harness Racing Industry

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 23 March 2023

Tags: Horse Racing, TasRacing, Animal Rights


On 5 February the Madeleine Ogilvie Stakes were held in Carrick and were taken out by Tasmania's biggest harness racing trainer, Ben Yole, the Anthony Bullock of the harness industry. You have been sent distressing photos of Ben Yole's horses on his property. Have you referred these images for investigation? The photos show dozens of miserable horses -

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, you do not have permission to use a prop, so please do not abuse the standing order.

Ms O'CONNOR - I am just refreshing myself as to the imagery and here they are, pictures of suffering horses. The photos show dozens of miserable horses packed into small, bare paddocks, hooves deep in mud, starving and, we are told, having to eat their own dung for food.

Minister, is this appalling animal welfare standard what you would expect from Tasmania's so-called 'top trainer' who makes, in his own words, 'about $100 000 a month' from his horses? There are questions about that too. Are Mr Yole's operations standard practice for the industry, or will you call them out today?



Thank you, Mr Speaker, another important question. The Government and Tasracing, as I have said, are investing more money than ever before into greyhound and horse welfare to ensure they are treated with dignity and care during and after their racing days.

Mr Ben Yole is the leading Tasmanian harness trainer and I am aware there is commentary on the number of starters that Mr Yole provides. We are looking for a diverse industry where animals are treated well, and as I have said a number of times today.

We have invested more money than ever before into welfare issues. I am advised that Tasracing has communicated to industry stakeholders a proposed rule which would see a trainer limited to the number of horses that can be entered into predetermined races from one stable, so that goes to the question of the number of horses.