The ACT government backs the future of the racing industry, despite the Greens tabling a petition that called to end the $7.5 million in annual public funding for Thoroughbred Park.
ACT Greens member of parliament Jo Clay tabled the petition, which claimed the ACT racing industry had links to organised crime, in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
But Canberra Racing chief executive Andrew Clark dismissed the claims of organised crime and said animal welfare was one of their core concerns.
It's not the first member of the animal racing industry to come under fire in Canberra, with the government having already banned greyhound racing.
Canberra Greyhounds have continuously warned horse racing would be next in the firing line.
But the government told The Canberra Times they would stand by their memorandum of understanding with Canberra Racing and Canberra Harness Racing - which runs until June 30, 2022 - and planned to enter discussions to extend that in the future.
The petition received 674 signatures and will now be referred to a government committee to investigate.
Canberra's racing industry employs 440 people and contributes $54.5 million towards the ACT economy.
"The MOU provides a range of economic and social benefits for the territory, and the funding provided to the racing clubs is intended to contribute to the development of a well-managed, well-regulated and sustainable industry that works to ensure the ongoing welfare of its horses," a government spokesperson said.
"The government will enter future MOU discussions in good faith to maintain the necessary health, welfare and promotion of club activities."
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The ACT Greens' believed the petition warranted further examination.
"The extreme mental and physical suffering these sentient beings experience 'for fun' is not acceptable to most Canberrans," the petition said.
"The conditions they live and die under, all at the behest of an industry with questionable ethics and subject to allegations of links with organised crime, goes against community expectations.
"Canberrans do not want to prop up this cruelty any longer.
"Your petitioners, therefore, request the assembly to call upon the government to withdraw all public funding ... to Thoroughbred Park."
Clay backed the Australian Greens' calls for a royal commission into the racing industry.
She had concerns over horse deaths in the industry, which had been highlighted by seven deaths from the past seven Melbourne Cups.
"I understand that most horse owners care deeply for their animals and owners clearly play an important role in the animal welfare of their horses," Clay said.
"I would also note that there is deep and growing community concern around the injury and deaths of horses in the racing industry, and these concerns are valid and worthy of ongoing discussion.
"The ACT Greens support the Australian Greens' calls for a national royal commission to further examine animal welfare issues in the horse racing industry."
Clark will meet with the ACT Greens in the New Year, when he will talk through their animal welfare initiatives.
Canberra Racing puts one per cent of their prizemoney towards re-homing retired racehorses and they audit their stables quarterly.
They're also in the process of hiring an animal welfare officer, with applications closing Monday.
In the past five years in Canberra, there have been five deaths during track work - from 473,200 gallops - and one death from 9205 runners in 962 races.
"We take equine welfare extremely seriously ... we've got meetings set up with ACT Labor and similarly are looking to meet with the Greens in the New Year to put forward our case of how we deal with equine welfare," Clark said.
"There's no evidence that's been put to our club that supports any link to organised crime whatsoever. I refute that absolutely."