Australian racehorse slaughter allegations prompt investigation

An undercover investigation by ABC's 7.30 programme allegedly found hundreds of racehorses being slaughtered in Australia every year after retiring. ( ABC 7.30 )An undercover investigation by ABC's 7.30 programme allegedly found hundreds of racehorses being slaughtered in Australia every year after retiring. ( ABC 7.30 )

THE BBC reports:

Australian authorities have launched an investigation into suspected animal cruelty after a TV report revealed the alleged mass slaughter of racehorses. Footage of horses allegedly being mistreated at an abattoir in Queensland caused widespread anger when it was aired on broadcaster ABC on Thursday.

On Friday, Queensland authorities sent inspectors to one of the abattoirs named by ABC’s 7.30 programme. The report alleged that 300 racehorses were killed there over a 22-day period.

It also broadcast covertly taken footage which appeared to show horses being beaten and mistreated in other ways.

The slaughter of racehorses is legal in Australia, but industry rules in some states require horses to be “rehomed”. State government officials described the allegations — aired ahead of the main spring racing season — as “abhorrent”.

Just the Beginning

This is just the beginning of the coverage. Here’s more:

The Standard AU reports:

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of Australian health racehorses are reportedly being sent to the slaughterhouse each year, contradicting industry claims the number was only 34.

Racing Australia’s official data shows around 34 horses every year end up at slaughterhouses – a figure amounting to less than one per cent of retiring racehorses.

But ABC’s 7.30 program has reported the number is much, much higher.So while racing’s peak body has rules requiring the registration and tracking of horses from their birth to their retirement, many are still being killed in slaughterhouses on a weekly basis.

Racing NSW Chief Executive Peter V'landys has been put under the microscope.
Racing NSW Chief Executive Peter V’landys has been put under the microscope.

Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys said he was not aware of any NSW racehorses being sent to slaughterhouses.

Hey Racing NSW. You might want to find yourself another CEO.

More reports:

A devastated jockey has shared how she tried desperately to save her horse only to see him tortured and slaughtered on national television. Laura Cheshire was watching television last night when she saw the horse she rode for a year — a thoroughbred she loved and rehomed four times — beaten, kicked and slaughtered.

Jockey Laura Cheshire broke down in tears watching her former racehorse get beaten and brutally killed, in an ABC investigation into abattoir mass killings.
Jockey Laura Cheshire broke down in tears watching her former racehorse get beaten and brutally killed, in an ABC investigation into abattoir mass killings.

The heartbroken 35-year-old Queensland jockey was beside herself as War Ends, a horse that won its owners more than $400,000 over an illustrious career, was treated with absolute disdain by workers at an abattoir in Queensland.

The footage, shot with hidden cameras as part of 7.30’s investigation into the mistreatment of racehorses, made her sick.

Through tears on the track at Ipswich this morning, she told she was disgusted because the horse’s last owner had promised her “he won’t be dogged”. “Next thing I know he’s on TV getting a bolt in his head,” Cheshire said. “It was horrific. It was unbearable to watch.”

Racing Queensland said the inhumane treatment of horses was a “national issue” and the industry had a “collective responsibility for the safety and wellbeing,” of the animals.

This morning the respected jockey sent a message to War Ends’ last owner, a woman who told her she had to give him away despite promising him a “forever home”. “I sent her the video of him being tortured,” she said. “I said, ‘What the f*** is wrong with you? You were supposed to be a responsible home for this horse.’”

The woman has since gone to ground and deleted her Facebook page. She has not responded to Cheshire’s texts. Read more  »

Elio Celotto of the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses. ABC News AU.
Elio Celetto of the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses. ABC News AU.

Elio Celetto from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses told the broadcaster about 4000 racehorses had been killed in one abattoir alone. Animal welfare and behaviour scientist Professor Paul McGreevy said there was no way the racing industry could defend the behaviour. “This is a clear breach of everything the industry has told us,” he said.

The investigation also aired accusations of multiple instances of animal cruelty at the slaughterhouses racehorses are being sent to.

Gross Cruelties

Seen in the video:

  • The covert cameras record horses being beaten and abused, bolted to the brain repeatedly and ineffectively killed.
  • Others are kicked and suffer electric shocks while confined in the kill box.
  • One worker can be seen repeatedly slamming a gate into a group of horses, another beats the horses with a hose.

The Meat

Celetto states that, “[The meat] goes to various countries in Europe, it goes to Japan, and Russia’s a big importer as well.”

Last Word with Tom Reilly

We are going to end with an excerpt from a piece written by Tom Reilly entitled, “We care for our racehorses, but our industry must confront this mistreatment“, and published by the Sydney Morning Herald, the paper where he was once a senior journalist.

Tom Reilly is CEO of Aushorse and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia.

“This isn’t to shift the blame and point the finger at those who are outside the thoroughbred industry, but no animal, whether it is a thoroughbred horse, a cow or a sheep, should be mistreated in the way the horses were in Caro Meldrum-Hanna’s investigation. Any animal that is being processed at an abattoir should be treated humanely and with dignity.”

We accept that Reilly is a reasonably intelligent man. He can read and write anyway. So we take it he is sporting with our intelligence.

There is no way to slaughter any sentient being humanely. With dignity? In a slaughterhouse?

And don’t try to fob us off with your jargon. No, they are not “processed” — they are slaughtered. Their dead bodies then turned into  meat.

Merriam Webster defines slaughter:

the act of killing specifically : the butchering of livestock for market.

If that weren’t enough, Reilly also refers to the egregious pain and suffering endured during horse slaughter as “mistreatment”.


There’s links to the video footage throughout the post, but here it is again. Warning: It is graphic. How could it be anything but?

Gamblers to Blame

Without gambling the business of horse racing would collapse. History has proven it so, in the U.S. anyway.

So, hey, gamblers. This is on your plate. You bet. They die.

Horse Race Insider’s Note to Racing: No More Mixed Messages

We note a few quotes and write in response to a Horse Race Insider’s article, “Note to Racing: No More Mixed Messages.”

Quote: “Aside from seeing an occasional news broadcast, the public has little to no interest in the game.”

We Say: Because horse racing has little to no interest in the public. This is an insider’s game. Plus — and this may ultimately be the defining factor particularly in the current climate — the public do not want to watch racehorses being killed.

Quote: “None of the people that have signed on to support the HIA [Horseracing Integrity Act] race their stock without drugs, even though they openly oppose it. They do not want to lose the edge from supposedly non performance-enhancing medications. That in itself negates the claim that drugs regularly administered to racehorses are benign.”

We Say: Yes. Correct.

Quote: “It is easy to look good backing a bill with no chance of becoming law.”

We Say: Spot on.

QUOTE: “TJC’s [The Jockey Club] support of DOA [dead on arrival] HIA bill, and not the Racehorse Doping Ban Act of 2019, aka Udall-Wyden, or the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act 2019, makes it seem as if the stewards of racing are moving forward to improve the reputation and integrity of the sport, but not supporting Udall-Wyden and SAFE clearly shows it is a publicity ploy.

“HIA not only lacks the necessary support, it faces the opposition of the National Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association and Kentucky’s Senator Mitch McConnell, who acts on the wishes of Churchill Downs, and has no mechanism to fund itself.

“Supporting a bill that has no chance to become law is the perfect ploy to placate the public and the perceived enemy, animal rights groups.

“HIA not only places the same ineffectual industry leaders in a majority position on a board with government backing, it sets up the United States Anti-Doping Authority for a fall.

“Udall-Wyden and SAFE, which would both be beneficial to the sport are absent of TJC support. SAFE in particular because it outlaws horse slaughter in the US and prohibits the export of horses for slaughter in other countries.”

We Say: Exactly.

Here is where we part company with the Horse Race Insider article.

QUOTE: “Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) causes death by blows to the head, yet the National Football League and the National Hockey league are not even remotely worried that society or politicians will banish Football or Ice Hockey.

“Thoroughbred horse racing’s leaders need to wake up to the fact that the industry isn’t an endangered species and get back to competing with sports betting, which is likely to have a much greater negative effect in the industry than horse deaths.

“In one year, the narrative has changed from how to grow the sport to how to save it. The issues of growth have not changed, nor has the chance horse racing will be banished.

“The time has come to take the reins and drive the sport into the future, not shrink from the actions of animal rights activists.”

We Say: The quote in the article that breaks the bank is this, “Thoroughbred horseracing’s leaders need to wake up to the fact that the industry isn’t an endangered species and get back to competing with sports betting, which is likely to have a much greater negative effect in the industry than horse deaths.” More than horse deaths? How do you think horse racing got into its current jam then?

As regards the horses, racehorses aren’t recruited. They don’t sign multi million contracts to train and compete. Neither do they volunteer their services. They are purposely bred, created, not for themselves — but to be hideously used and disposed of by a cruel industry whose concern for their welfare has become virtually non existent. 

Please folks whatever you do, do not try to respond with comments about how much owners and trainers “love” their horses. If so, then their love is the kiss of death. Added to that, they wouldn’t be in this business at all if they gave a flying you know what about the racehorse.

As a sidenote, we are not picking on Horse Race Insider here. We are simply using its article as an example of how a majority, if not all, of horse racing thinks.

As you can see, many in horse racing are still making piously bankrupt remarks about reform, and turning around and contradicting themselves just a few days later. It’s bedlam trying to follow it all. Horse Race Insider just happened to gift us with what we needed all in one place, that’s all.

What it appears in actuality is all that American horse racing truly wants is for the bad publicity, outside interference, proposed federal oversight, anti-doping legislation, suggestions of an independent Commissioner — and oh, yes, those annoying day-to-day racetrack death watches and protests — to go far, far away so they can go back to what they do undisturbed and unperturbed. Who can blame them — if you are of that ilk.

However, that means the continued drugging, abuse and killing of racehorses. Why would anyone who enjoys a flutter want to gamble on such a thing? How can the rest of us turn a blind eye?

Read full article here »

Boycott betting on Santa Anita races — Twitter campaign

Racehorse training at Santa Anita. Photo credit: Nikki Burr.
Racehorse training at Santa Anita. Photo credit: Nikki Burr.

The legal market handle on horse racing in the United States in 2018 was $11.26 billion while experts predict the illegal sports betting market could be anywhere from $80 billion to $150 billion annually. On horse racing alone.

Let’s see if we can put a bit of a dent in Santa Anita’s handle (we’ll talk about that a bit more further down).

Even if it’s a tiny fraction, the gambling industry will not like seeing these two words together anywhere, especially on social media: boycott + gambling.

You Bet. They Die.

Team Santa Anita Park racetrack have killed 29 racehorses since December.

The number was at 27 when the Governor of California stepped in and asked Santa Anita to shut down for the current season. They refused.

Santa Anita killed two more racehorses after that, bringing the total to 29.

Then the California Horse Racing Board asked Santa Anita Park to shut down for the current season. They refused.

Twitter Campaign

Starting tomorrow, Tuesday, June 11, we will be tweeting something along these lines:

Stop the carnage. 29 dead racehorses and counting. Boycott betting at Santa Anita until they are closed.
#boycott #betting #santaanitapark

Please either retweet our message @horsefund or tweet the above message from your own account.

If you choose to change the message up please use the same hashtags.

Will It Hurt?

If our Twitter campaign works, will reducing the handle and takeout hurt the track? You bet!

Handle: In sports betting lingo the term handle refers to the total amount of money wagered over a specific period of time.

Takeout: Say a million dollars is wagered on a particular race. According to California law, the racetrack is required to keep 15.43 percent of that, or $154,300, while $845,700 is paid out to winning bettors. Then, of that $154,300, about 45 percent goes to the horse owners who finish in the money (first place gets 60 percent; second place gets 20 percent; third place gets 12 percent; fourth place gets six percent; and fifth place gets two percent). Then around 45 percent goes to the racetrack for operating expenses — what’s known as the takeout.


Online gambling is where most of the action is, so getting punters to boycott betting on Santa Anita horse races will hurt even more if we can get bettors to please stay away. I mean, there’s plenty else to bet on, right?

Thanks everyone.

*   *   *

The current race meeting season at Santa Anita closes on June 23.

“You Bet. They Die.” This slogan was coined we believe by Animal Aid UK concerning the Grand National steeplechase in England.

The cruelties of horse racing — what we’re doing to bring it to and end


We are funding investigations into the illegal drugging of racehorses. We are turning the results over to Federal investigators who will make the arrests and press charges for race fixing, a federal offense. Learn more at our website »


We have come close to busting some of these betting rings who use off track Thoroughbreds for illegal horse racing then sell them on to slaughter. But like dog fighting they changes venues often, seldom returning to the same location. It is also dangerous to approach or infiltrate these hardened criminals so it is expensive to get investigators to do it. Learn more at our website »


We are taking on the abusive and deadly Claiming Race, particularly at racinos where they pay from first to last, with even the last place finisher making a bit of money, typically in the range of $200.

Cruel trainers are running horses over and over, with only a few days rest in between, and these overworked horses’ bodies are being destroyed, and they are breaking down and dying at an alarming rate. Learn more at our website »


You Bet. They Die. is a combination social media and at the track protest campaign we are launching April 2016 to raise awareness about racehorse cruelty, injury and death. Betting is keeping this industry alive. The industry would collapse without it.

Besides electronic protesting activists we will be at as many race meetings as we can staff and supporting the ones that others are doing. There are some really terrific people taking this on and educating racegoers as they enter the track. And racegoers — who have no idea the cruelties and death associated with the way horse racing is managed in the U.S. — are sickened by it and leaving.

We are working on putting a group together to meet and greet and leaflet in Las Vegas the weekend of the Kentucky Derby. There are plenty of other sports and activities for people to bet on.

If you can’t be at the track you can help on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. We will create a group of specific hashtags for you to use, so stay tuned for those.

We are very excited about the artwork being designed for this campaign. It will be used as the centerpiece of the You Bet. They Die. campaign. You will be knocked out!


Please make a donation. Everyone making a donation between 6 pm EST Friday and 6 pm EST Sunday will be entered to win this tee.

We are giving away 10. We will have a draw Sunday night from those of you who click through via Tuesday’s Horse and makes a donation.

Oh, and gentle reminder, the clocks are moving forward one hour.



We can do a lot but we can’t do it on our own. We need you. Please see our You Bet. They Die. page on our website for further information.