Animal Aid

The Spectre of Death Comes to Wolverhampton Racecourse

Posted 1 February 2007

Date: 5 February 2007
Time: 1300 hrs
Location: Main Entrance, Dunstall Park, Wolverhampton

The spectre of death - representing hundreds of equine fatalities - will be present at Wolverhampton Racecourse next Monday. Animal Aid's Victorian lady will be dressed in dark, gothic robes and will be wearing a striking hat that features a model racehorse tumbling with a broken leg.

This genteel but sombre protest is to highlight the fact that seven horses have perished at Dunstall Park in just nine weeks (6 November 2006 - 13 January 2007). The last two horses died less than a month after the industry's regulatory authority announced that an 'independent' investigation into the earlier fatalities and had given the track the all-clear.

Wolverhampton has a 'Polytrack' synthetic surface in which gravel, crushed rock, sand, rubber, synthetic fibres and other materials are layered and bonded together. The evidence points to the surface becoming compacted - and dangerously firm - as a result of the unparalleled number of race meetings staged by the course. There were more than 100 racing days at Dunstall Park during 2006, which is about seven times more than is usual for a flat course. As well as the challenging surface, the oval-shaped course, with its unusually tight bends, encourages horses to bunch together.

Animal Aid is demanding that the course is immediately shut down to prevent further carnage.

Says Animal Aid Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall:

'This racecourse is a death-trap, and the course operators and industry regulators seem to be intent on trying to keep the horse deaths away from the public eye, and refusing to close the course, despite the risk to the lives of jockeys and horses alike. Racing must be suspended until a full, independent inquiry can be made, by a party not in the employ of the racing industry.'

Notes to editors

  • Around 375 horses are raced to death every year. 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.
  • 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 uncertain. Around 5,000 racers are retired each year, yet very few go on to lead out their lives in a sanctuary or adoptive home. It is clear that 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 Animal Aid's report on breeding and slaughter
  • View our powerful 90-second web film
  • More information

    • For full background and interviews, contact Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546.
    • ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.
    • Images are available on request.

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