Animal Aid

Call for Cheltenham Festival boss to resign as six horses die in one day

Posted 17 March 2006

Animal Aid has called for the resignation of Cheltenham's Managing Director, Edward Gillespie, following a catastrophic day at the racecourse on Thursday when six horses perished - three in one race. This brings to eight the total number of equine casualties in the first three days of the 2006 Cheltenham festival.

Animal Aid's research into the racing industry has revealed that around 375 horses are raced to death every year - and Cheltenham is the most hazardous of all Britain's 59 courses. Shockingly, racing's own regulatory body, the Jockey Club, owns Cheltenham.

From just 54 days racing at the course during the 2004 jump season, there were no fewer than 21 on-track deaths. And in the last three Cheltenham Festivals, there have been nine fatalities.

The carnage at Cheltenham is the responsibility of those who run the course and who regulate racing. That is why the resignation of the top man, Edward Gillespie, is being demanded by the national campaign group.

The horses killed were Bayard (broken leg), No Where To Hyde (broken leg) and, yesterday, Holy Orders (broken left hind), Olaso (broken front cannon between obstacles), Basilea Star (collapsed and died), Millenaire (broken back, Mr Babbage (broken humerus) and Sh Boom (died overnight as a result of injuries).

Says Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler:

'Cheltenham kills horses year in, year out. It is the most dangerous of all Britain's racecourses. Yet, in response to this carnage, we have heard the usual cries from the industry that it is all a tragic and regrettable mystery. In reality, there is no genuine compassion on offer.'

'The deaths - resulting from broken backs, necks and legs and heart attacks - are as predictable as they are depressing. They are caused by the demands that the industry places on these increasingly overworked and highly inbred animals.'

For more information and interviews, please call Andrew Tyler or Dene Stansall at Animal Aid on 01732 364546. ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.

Notes to Editors

  • 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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