Horse Racing Ireland decline to comment on upcoming Panorama programme

Irish Times / Brian O’Connor Reporting / 13 Jul 2021

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has declined to comment ahead of a BBC Panorama programme next Monday which examines what happens to racehorses after their racing careers are finished.

The programme, with a title ‘The Dark Side of Horse Racing’ is set to be broadcast at 8.30 on Monday 19th July evening on BBC1.

It is expected to focus on horses that are euthanised* in British abattoirs.

It is understood a number of trainers based in Ireland have been contacted by the programme makers in relation to the topic.

The programme has been advertised on the BBC website and reads: “”Horseracing is one of the most popular and profitable sports, a £5 billion industry in the UK and Ireland followed by millions.

“Panorama reporter Darragh MacIntyre investigates what can happen to racehorses when their careers end.

“The industry says that racing is now safer than ever, that the number of deaths on the track is falling and that the animals are looked after in retirement.

“Panorama discovers that off the track, many horses suffer career-ending injuries, and rather than being rehabilitated or retrained for life outside the sport, racehorses that have been owned and trained by some of the biggest names in the industry, have been put down, some meeting grisly deaths.”

Contacted on Tuesday, a HRI spokesman said Irish racing’s ruling body was “not speculating” ahead of the broadcast.

British racing has twice before come under the Panorama spotlight, including in 2008 when ‘Racing’s Dirty Secrets’ was broadcast.

On the back of that trainer Karl Burke was disqualified for a year. Jockeys Darren Williams and Fergal Lynch were also suspended for their roles in race-fixing.

It is believed the latest programme includes examination of how horses trained in Ireland end up being euthanised in Britain.

It is a potentially another embarrassing scenario for the sport here on the back of a number of controversies in 2021.

Bolger has publicly voiced concerns about the issue of drug cheats in Irish racing on a number of occasions, calling it the sport’s “number one problem” in October last year. “My demand is for a level playing field. You don’t bring in a quarter tonne of steroids unless somebody is using them,” he told SkySports.

The Dáil Agriculture Committee is continuing its investigation into allegations of doping by top trainer Jim Bolger who alleged that drug cheats is Irish racing’s number one problem.

Earlier this year, racing was in the spotlight too when trainer Gordon Elliott was suspended for a year, with six months suspended, as well as being fined €15,000, after an image emerged of him sitting on a dead horse.

Elliott was found to have behaved in the “most appalling bad taste” and “the reputation and integrity of horseacing has been consequently been brought into disrepute and has been prejudiced and serious damage has been caused to a sport enjoyed and loved by so many.”


Updated: 18th July 11:30 pm EST


*Please Note: Death in a slaughterhouse it not a form of euthanasia. It is a violent, brutal and terrifying death.

Related Reading

“My demand is for a level playing field. You don’t bring in a quarter tonne of steroids unless somebody is using them,” Bolger told SkySports in “Jim Bolger: Most of horse racing’s drug cheats go undetected or unpursued and I demand a level playing field,” 14 Jun 2021 »

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