The traditional horse racing event in honor of St Margaret’s Day at ta’ Sannat will continue as planned although it has not been approved by the Office of the Animal Welfare Commissioner.
Conversely, the horse racing event has been endorsed by the Ministry of Gozo, whose logo appears on the poster for the event.
Jhe horse racing is a major event in party in the village of Gozitan. The Ffirst horse race was held on July 22, 1810 in honor of Saint Margaret. This year, the race will take place on Sunday, July 24 at 1:30 p.m., at the height of a hot summer day.
The mayor of Sannat, Philip Vella, is known to have asked the Office of the Animal Welfare Commissioner for a letter of no objection so that the local council could apply for the necessary permissions.
The letter of no objection was not granted as animal welfare commissioner Alison Bezzina told the local council mayor of Sannat that the office is “against this practice as tarred roads are not ideal for horse racing“.
However, Bezzina provided the local council with a number of guidelines and encouraged them to stick to them.
Maltese laws prohibit karozzini from being on the road between July and August between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., Bezzina said. Having horse racing in the sweltering summer afternoon is even worse.
She added that “although legally this does not strictly apply to horse racing, the principle of animal welfare and the spirit of the law should be applied to all horses. The ideal place for such races is the racecourse which offers the best conditions and safety measures for the horses and the public.
Despite this, the races will take place on roads that are not considered suitable for such practice.
Among the guidelines provided, Bezzina said no horse racing should take place during sunlight, but only after sunset, and roads should be wide enough to provide safety for horses, riders spectators.
Bezzina noted that parts of Triq Tabib Anton Tabone, the road where the horse race is expected to take place, are not wide enough.
In addition, the guidelines also stated that the horses should not wait until sunset (6:30 p.m.), there should be no hills, not even when the race ends but the horse is still running and trying to slow down, there should be easy access to water, no traffic, no whips and there should be a vet on site and an emergency transporter as well.
Bezzina also encouraged the local council to organize the horse race with the owners’ horse porters nearby, to avoid the horses walking a long distance after the race, and finally, to ensure that there is adequate shelter for the horses while they wait.