Racing’s Future in the Spotlight during Virtual IFHA Conference

7 October 2021

Today featured the launch of the 55th International Conference of Horseracing Authorities, organised by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA). Held virtually for the second consecutive year, the 2021 Conference examines global racing’s evolution and future challenges. The Japan Racing Association (JRA) is the official partner of this year’s Conference.


The keynote speech was given by incoming IFHA Chair Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, who was recently elected as the new head of the Federation following Louis Romanet’s retirement. Following his speech, the Conference featured panels on digitalisation and media; equine welfare; and climate change and sustainability. The Conference concluded with a tribute to Romanet, who is retiring after 27 years as Chairman and who was appointed to the honorary position of Chairman Emeritus effective 4 October 2021.  

“The 55th International Conference of the IFHA comes at a most significant time for our sport and the world,” said Engelbrecht-Bresges. “We face major macro challenges arising from the pandemic and climate change.  More than ever, we must work together and harness the wealth of talent and expertise within our membership to not only face these challenges, but ensure that our sport thrives in the short, medium, and long term. 

“This Conference gives us the opportunity to look forward at some key parts of the IFHA’s strategy for the future. We are fortunate to have world-class speakers sharing their insights regarding digitalisation and media, equine welfare, climate change and sustainability.” 

Guest speakers at this year’s Conference included Michael Mulvihill, executive vice president, head of strategy and analytics at FOX Sports; Jamie Stier, chair of the IFHA Horse Welfare Committee and Racing Victoria’s executive general manager, integrity services; Di Arbuthnot, the chief executive for Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) and chair of the International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses (IFAR); and Allen Hershkowitz, a founding director and chairman of Sport and Sustainability International and environmental science advisor to the New York Yankees. Respected presenter Rishi Persad returned this year to serve as moderator.

The first International Conference of Horseracing Authorities was organised and hosted by the Société d'Encouragement in Paris, France, on October 9, 1967. Since 1994, the annual conference has been organised by the IFHA at France Galop. In 2019, the Conference convened delegates from more than 50 different countries with a number of other racing executives and media members in attendance. Historically held the day after the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), the Conference transitioned to a virtual format in 2020 as the result of COVID-19.


The Conference can be viewed on the IFHA website at, and directly at


 The Conference may also be accessed via podcast at or on Spotify at

“The 55th International Conference of the IFHA comes at a most significant time for our sport and the world,” said Engelbrecht-Bresges.