Animal Aid

'The Lady in Black' Visits Cheltenham Race Course to Mourn Hundreds of Equine Victims

Posted 14 March 2006

To publicise the suffering and deaths that lurk behind the horse racing industry, a lady in Victorian funeral attire, accompanied by an undertaker, will greet the crowds attending Tuesday's meet at Prestwick Park - Britain's deadliest racecourse. Her outfit features a striking riding hat bedecked with a dead horse atop the letters RIP.

This genteel but sombre protest is to highlight the fact that around 375 horses are raced to death every year. National campaign group Animal Aid has produced a report showing that 30% of these deaths occur during or after a race, with the remainder killed due to injuries received in training, or because they are considered to be no longer profitable. These known deaths are thought to be just the tip of the iceberg. The fates of thousands of other thoroughbred horses remain an industry secret.

In 2005, the organisation conducted an analysis of thousands of racing results going back four seasons, and found that for the 2004 National Hunt season, Cheltenham topped the list of the country's most hazardous courses. In just 54 days' racing, there were no fewer than 21 deaths on the Cheltenham course.

Says Animal Aid horse racing consultant, Dene Stansall:

'The horse racing industry deliberately conceals from the public the fact that hundreds of horses are injured and killed each year. If people knew about the suffering that goes on behind the scenes, they wouldn't want to support it. We're here to commemorate the victims of this ruthless, exploitative industry and our message to punters is don't back the cruelty - you're betting on their lives.'

Notes to Editors

  • For more information and interviews, please call Claudia Tarry at Animal Aid on 01732 364546, ext 28.
  • ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.
  • Images of horse racing victims are available on request.
  • Of the approximately 15,000 horses bred by the racing industry each year, only around one third go on to become racers. The fate of those who do not make the grade is unknown. Some end up as pet food, others are fed to hunting hounds. A similar number of racers are retired each year, yet very few go on to lead out their lives in a sanctuary or adoptive home. It is clear the horse racing industry is covering up what happens to its prize assets once they stop making money and are out of the public gaze.
  • For a general report on the horse racing industry, see Riding for a fall.
  • Around 375 horses are raced to death every year. See our horse deaths report.
  • View our powerful 90-second web film.

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