UK: As horse deaths mount, campaigners ask: what price a day at the races

Cheltenham heads list of courses where most animals die, and jump racing carries most risk

Cross-posted from The Observer

Racing in the UK has killed at least 1000 horses since 2007 say reports by activists and racing authorities. Image: The Telegraph.
PHOTO CREDIT: THE TELEGRAPH
Racing in the UK has killed at least 1000 horses since 2007 say reports by activists and racing authorities.

A thousand horses have died on Britain’s racecourses since 2007, according to records kept by an animal rights organisation. Animal Aid’s “Death Watch” list reached the 1,000 mark late last month when a seven-year-old gelding, Hired Hand, was destroyed at Bangor-on-Dee, Clwyd, after being injured in a race.

An analysis of Animal Aid’s figures shows that the racecourses where most horses have died since the list was started are: Cheltenham (47), Sedgefield (44), Market Rasen (40), Newton Abbot (32) and Aintree (31).

However the true number of deaths is suspected to be significantly higher. The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) confirmed in response to a recent parliamentary question that there were 162 more equine fatalities over the past three years than Animal Aid has recorded.

trainers and owners are increasingly requesting the destruction of horses at the racecourse

The National Trainers Federation reported in January that “trainers and owners are increasingly requesting the destruction of horses at the racecourse”. This is known as elective euthanasia and is not recorded as part of the BHA’s data. Animal Aid said the discrepancies showed that there was a need for the BHA to publish a full account of every racecourse death, specifying where each death occurred and the injury or medical condition that brought it about.

“If horses are to die so that someone can enjoy a bet, punters should be aware of a basic truth,” said Dene Stansall, Animal Aid’s horseracing consultant. “And this is that betting on horses means horses will suffer and die.”

Some 17,500 horses ran on Britain’s racecourses last year and of these around 6,600 – around 38% of the total – are estimated to have participated in jump racing. Continue reading >>

Horse racing is not deadly in the UK alone.

Pride of Westbury crashes and breaks his neck at Warrnambool in 2009 and later euthanized. Photo: Liss Ralston.
PHOTO CREDIT: LISS RALSTON.
Pride of Westbury crashes and breaks his neck at Warrnambool in 2009.

The RSCPA (SA) in Australia reports that:

“In the past six years, well over 60 jumps horses have died in South Australia and Victoria.

Last year three jumps horses died in South Australia – two of them at Oakbank.”

Australia’s Fallen Racehorses (http://fallenracehorsesaustralia.blogspot.com/) reports one such death.

“Day one of the yearly Warrnambool carnival, and six year old gelding Pride of Westbury (AUS) became a casualty when he hit the last hurdle and fell. He suffered a broken neck and died instantly, 6th of May, 2009.”

Pride Of Westbury's lifeless body lying on concrete behind the racetrack, out of view of racegoers. Photo: HorseRacingKills.com.
Pride Of Westbury’s lifeless body lying on concrete behind the racetrack, out of view of racegoers. Photo: HorseRacingKills.com.

11 thoughts on “UK: As horse deaths mount, campaigners ask: what price a day at the races”

  1. The Queen is a great horse lover. Certainly, she can and should speak out against this barbaric “sport.”

    Like

    1. HM The Queen (and the late Queen Mother), runs horses regularly over the jumps. The Queen Mum used to hand out the prizes at the big meets such as Cheltenham.

      I wouldn’t count on the British Royal Family to defend horses.

      HM The Queen does love horses and horse racing. HRH Prince Charles and his sons have a fabulous string of polo ponies. HRH The Princess Royal (Anne) is a keen horsewoman. So are many, many of the other family members.

      However, I have never heard of any of them retiring horses when they are done with them. That does not mean they do not — just saying — in all the years I lived in England and worked in horse racing I never heard of it. If provisions are made it is not talked about.

      Princess Anne made a statement a few years back that more horse slaughter is needed. So it appears that they may be fond of horses but at the end of the day most probably see them as disposable commodities.

      Like

  2. Underneath Pride of Westbury’s fall, the caption says he broke his neck and was later euthanized, then a later comment says: “He suffered a broken neck and died instantly, 6th of May, 2009.” what are the true facts here?

    Like

    1. I checked original sources, and a couple of others, and some say died instantly and only one says euthanized. Pride of Westbury did die of a broken neck from that horrific fall. I have corrected the caption to simply state that. I notice I typed Warrnambool incorrectly and fixed that as well.

      Like

  3. The photo reminds me of a young 2 or three year old quarter horse that broke its leg at a race in New Mexico and its body was hauled to a dump and left. In other words thrown on the trash pile. Horses would have been better off if they had went extinct 12,000 years ago. I know, no one wants to hear that, but given what has happened to them and what is happening to them , at least they would have lived out their lives free of humans.

    Like

  4. OMG that last picture is so heartbreaking, thrown in the back no one morning him on with business, I’m telling you the human race are the worst predators on this planet destroying everything we touch no all of us for sure but to, to many who are a disgrace in what they hold sacred, which is money… JUST makes me so sick to my stomach knowing how cruel some can be>>>>> This all will come back to haunt us I might not still be here thank god but it will this destruction of our animal’s we will PAY won way other the other… :(

    Like

    1. It is horrible Debbie. We want people to see what horse racing thinks of its horses. How disposable they are to them. All that is left on him is a couple of dirty bandages. What a cruel heartless industry it is. People in racing defend it, saying they don’t do these things. But so many stand by and watch … and keep quiet.

      Like

  5. Here in the States, we the People pay race tracks with our taxes to create breeders cups and of course, that leads to poor conformation in horses, which in order to get rid of those many, many “mistakes” they are then shipped off to slaughter. So essentially, we are the poorer for it, in both respects.

    Like

    1. I can’t believe I used to photograph it at home in the UK. That was a long time ago (90’s) and the most horrific injuries I witnessed were to the jockeys. I only recall a couple of horses being euthanized on the track. Of course that is two too many and obviously not all that this happened to, but the number now is absolutely horrific. Of course the numbers in this report do not count the ones who are too injured to race again and sent from the track straight to slaughter.

      Like

Comments are closed.