Animal Aid

Another Victim at Cheltenham's Festival of Death

Posted 14 March 2008

The Cheltenham Festival claimed yet another equine victim when seven-year-old Whispered Promises suffered a fatal fall in the over-crowded Coral Cup hurdle race on 14 March 2008. He had an inexperienced jockey on his back and 27 other horses competing for the prize. The American-bred gelding never rose following his horrific fall.

Whispered Promises was trained by David Pipe, who also trained Little Brick – the first of two victims during the 2007 Festival. Little Brick was the first entry in Animal Aid's Race Horse Deathwatch – an online interactive database that records all Thoroughbred deaths on British racecourses. The tally for the first year stands at 161.

Animal Aid research shows that Cheltenham consistently rates as amongst the most lethal of all Britain's 59 racecourses. In 2006, the Festival killed 11 horses and three were killed in each of the preceding three years. The course is especially challenging because of its undulating nature and dangerous downhill fences. The Festival itself features a number of crowded races and inexperienced horses and riders.

During Channel 4's coverage, the death of Whispered Promises rated a one-sentence ‘footnote’. As he lay on the ground, his life in the balance, the commentators focused not on his fate but on the ‘excitement’ of the photo finish.

Says Dene Stansall, Animal Aid’s Racing Consultant:

‘In the run-up to Cheltenham, Animal Aid expressed serious concern about horse welfare in a letter to the Cheltenham Executive. They have clearly not addressed these concerns and Whispered Promises has paid the ultimate price. Cheltenham owe a duty of care to the horses who race at Prestbury Park and once again they have conspicuously failed in their obligations.’

More information

Contact Andrew Tyler or Dene Stansall on 01732 364546 for interviews.

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