Stirk Receives Outstanding Veterinary Achievement Award

The British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) Senior Veterinary Adviser Anthony Stirk, BVSc, MRCVS, received an award for outstanding veterinary achievement at the 29th Animal Health Trust (AHT) U.K. Equestrian Awards on Oct. 31.

Stirk, 72, has worked for the governing and regulatory body for British Horseracing since 1997.

The award, named in honor of Reginald Wooldridge, CBE, PhD, MSc, FRCVS, FRIC, DVSc, DSc, who founded the first Veterinary Education trust in 1942, recognizes a sustained and exemplary contribution to the work and understanding of equine vets.

The ceremony was held by the AHT and welcomed professional riders, equine vets, and horse welfare specialists to celebrate their achievements and those of the AHT, who have worked over the last 75 years to try and improve the health and welfare of all equine.

The awards were presented by the AHT’s President HRH The Princess Royal.

“The judges have decided to award the outstanding veterinary achievement award to a person whose career has been dedicated to improving welfare of racing Thoroughbreds, Anthony Stirk,” the AHT said. “His input has been fundamental to the success of the U.K.’s various racing authorities’ fatal and long-term injury programs.

“He began collecting and computerizing fatality data with Weatherbys in 1999 and subsequently introduced a parallel system for recording long-term injuries. By ensuring that data has been collected rigorously ever since, it has been possible to introduce practical solutions to enable racecourses and race planners to reduce risk on the basis of evidence rather than speculation. As a direct consequence, racing fatalities have been reduced by one third in the last 20 years.”

Stirk said, “I feel a bit like (Thoroughbred trainer) Aidan O’Brien must after one of his Group 1 successes, though I somehow doubt I will achieve another 25! Anyway, like him, I must stress I’ve had the cooperation and support of a wide range of people in the racing industry.

“BHA staff, racecourse vets, racecourse management, trainers, jockeys, and stable staff (particularly stable staff),” he said. “It’s a team effort; my thanks to all of them and I hope they feel they share in this. Hopefully the progress in injury reduction on the racecourse will continue, and that we will be able to extend our understanding of the risk factors involved in injury to the in-training area.”

David Sykes, BVSc, MRCVS, the BHA’s director of equine health and welfare added, “This is a truly deserved award for Anthony. In my short time at the BHA, I’ve witnessed his drive and work to improve the environment and conditions of our sport’s superstars first hand, and I am thrilled that this has been appropriately recognized by the wider equine community.”

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