Racing NSW boss Peter V’landys loses defamation case over ABC animal cruelty story

The Final Race: The Dark Side of the Horse Racing Industry

by Melissa McGrath on 2 Jul 2021. Exerpted below.

In the Federal Court decision of V’landys v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (No 3) [2021] FCA 500, Chief Executive Officer and Board member of Racing NSW, Mr Peter V’landys AM (Mr V’landys), was unsuccessful in his defamation action against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The Facts

On 17 October 2019, the ABC broadcasted an episode on their flagship news and current affairs program, 7.30, titled ‘The Final Race: The dark side of the horse racing industry’. The episode revealed findings of a two-year long investigation into the horse racing industry in Australia.

Mr V’landys claimed the program made four defamatory imputations including that he, as Chief Executive Officer of Racing NSW:

  1. Callously permitted the wholesale slaughter of thoroughbred horses.
  2. Ignored the cruelty to which thoroughbred horses were subjected to in a Queensland abattoir.
  3. Dishonestly asserted that no racehorses were sent to knackeries for slaughter in New South Wales when he knew that act to be untrue.
  4. Dishonestly asserted that Racing NSW cared about the welfare of thoroughbred horses and took adequate steps to protect their welfare when he knew that was untrue.[1]


The Court found that none of the four imputations allegedly contained in the program were conveyed. It said that the “powerful and dramatic nature of the report” would have been deeply embarrassing for Mr V’landys and the horse racing industry.[2] Despite this, it found that Mr V’landys could not succeed in his defamation action as the pleaded imputations did not fall within what it considered ‘defamatory’.

:: Read full report »

Racehorse slaughter continues

In an article published by The Guardian newspaper, 29th October 2020, it states:

Open quote

Slaughtering racehorses is not illegal in Australia.

But it is against the rules of Racing NSW, which stipulate that retired racehorses must be rehomed, not sent for slaughter.

Breaching the rules can lead to fines, suspensions and disqualifications.

Racing Victoria does not have an outright ban on sending horses to slaughter, arguing that would “drive the problem underground”. Instead, it is compulsory for owners and trainers to provide data on why a horse was retired and whether it died or was retrained.

:: Read full story»

Laura Cheshire

Gold Coast based jockey Laura Cheshire has ridden 249 career winners but that takes second place to the welfare passion which has seen her elected the new president of a horse rescue charity.
Open quote

Horrified by watching a racehorse she had ridden for 18 months slaughtered on national television, heartbroken Queensland jockey Laura Cheshire was determined to help make positive change.

And Cheshire is making good on her pledge, recently elected as the new president of horse rescue charity Save A Horse Australia which is currently caring for about 80 horses on a 77-acre property at Beaudesert.

:: Read full story »


Related Reading

:: NSW stud owned by Gerry Harvey among those accused in parliament of sending racehorses to slaughter (Allegations in Victorian parliament suggest slaughter of racehorses continues in NSW despite rules introduced in 2017),The Guardian, 29 Oct 2020

:: AU Racing: Peter Moody proposes industry ‘knackery’ for unwanted horses, TH, 31 Dec 2019


Featured Image: Peter V’landys, Australian Institute of Company Directors

2 thoughts on “Racing NSW boss Peter V’landys loses defamation case over ABC animal cruelty story”

  1. Since the 7.30 Report aired, the various Australian racing authorities have scrambled to convince the general public and punters that they have welfare programs in place. It is largely window-dressing. While many states are providing opportunities for re-training and re-homing, the elephant in the room is being ignored. They refuse to countenance caps on breeding.

    Australia is the second highest per capita breeder of thoroughbreds in the world. In raw figures that means 14,000 foals on the ground each year compared to America’s 18,000. When 8,000 horses exit racing each year our population of under 26 million cannot re-home them all. The market is flooded with Off-the-Track horses. Many of them are still being slaughtered either for human consumption or pet food.

    Many trainers and owners are still sending horses to slaughter despite the outrage that was provoked by The Final Race. NSW is the only state that banned them going to slaughter or unauthorised sales however they do not have an effective way of policing it.

    The Harnass Racing industry makes no apology for slaughtering horses. The retirement forms include the option ” abattoir” and “owner’s decision” on them. Both racing codes are delusional if they think such behaviour will enable them to keep their social licence.


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