Tracing our Standardbreds

“Every Standardbred horse should be treated with respect, compassion and understanding and shall receive a standard of care which allows them to enjoy a good quality of life while in the racing industry and on retirement.”

Harness Racing New Zealand will microchip the young Standardbred horses, as part of the horse identification process, from 1 August 2020. Exported horses will be microchipped from 1 December 2019, as required by the Ministry of Primary Industries to meet their export requirements.

Key advantages of microchipping are improved traceability of our Standardbreds, along with the improved potential for rehoming when horses retire from racing. Freeze branding, which is currently used for identification of our Standardbreds, will be phased out over the next two years.

Traceability of the racing population is very important and this will be extended to capture the first home that a Standardbred goes to when it retires from the industry. 

We are in the process of updating our IT systems to allow this information to be captured as part of our horse traceability requirements. Until there is legal requirement for all horses in New Zealand to be registered on a central database, and the database updated for movements of horses, it is not practical for us to record the ownership of the horse when it retires from racing, beyond the first home.

Essentially as unlicensed owners are not subject to Harness Racing New Zealand regulatory oversight, attaining ‘whole-of-life traceability’ for the New Zealand Standardbred population, while a worthy objective, is not practical to achieve. 

Ensuring there is no shortfall in data submission and reporting is a priority for Harness Racing New Zealand. To achieve this objective, full support from stakeholder groups and full compliance by trainers, owners, and/or racing managers is needed to ensure that death and retirement records are comprehensive, both in terms of detail and by providing a return for every horse in their care/ownership.


Harness Racing New Zealand will:

  1. Conduct research into wastage and breeding patterns
  2. Commence microchipping Standardbreds from 1 August 2020 (exported horses fom 1 December 2019)
  3. Update the process and Rules for registration and retirement of Standardbreds
  4. Make it easier for owner/trainer to update information by development of online processes and phone app
  5. Improve the traceability of the racing and breeding Standardbred population from foaling to retiring from the industry