Animal Aid

Britain's Most Lethal Course Claims Another Victim

Posted 26 March 2008

A five-year-old novice horse, Star Of The Desert, died from neck injuries sustained in a heavy fall at Sedgefield racecourse yesterday. The fatality occurred while Animal Aid was staging a protest at the course, which the national campaign group recently named as the most lethal in Britain. Star Of The Desert was one of 13 runners entered into a 2 mile 1 furlong novice hurdle race, and was being ridden by an inexperienced jockey. He fell at the fifth of eight obstacles. Because of worries about the condition of the ground, the decision to stage the meeting was not taken until nearly 10am on the day itself.

Sedgefield earns its ‘most lethal’ status as a result of an analysis of the first year's data from Animal Aid’s Race Horse Deathwatch – a unique interactive website that records detailed information relating to all equine fatalities on British racecourses. A total of 161 deaths was recorded at 45 of the 59 British courses. Eleven of the deaths – the biggest tally – occurred at Sedgefield. Star Of The Desert becomes the twelfth victim.

Prior to the demonstration and the death of Star Of The Desert, Animal Aid wrote to Sedgefield management requesting a meeting to discuss ways of eliminating horse deaths and injuries at the course. Officials declined, stating: ‘Horse racing can be dangerous, whether jumping fences or racing on the flat. It is impossible to eradicate completely the risk to both horses and jockeys. None the less, every racecourse undertakes rigorous measures to ensure that the risk is minimised.’

Notes to editors:

  • Read Race Horse Deathwatch:The First Year
  • The 12 horses who have perished at Sedgefield since mid-March 2007 are: Alfano (27/03/2007), Dundiclou (1/05/2007), Wrapitup (23/05/2007), Palais Tiff (10/08/2007), Rising Tempest (4/09/2007), Coronation Flight (2/10/2007), Lochanee (13/11/2007), Some Trainer (27/11/2007), Thenford Lord (11/12/2007), Always Ask (also 11/12/2007), Black Rainbow (26/12/2007), Star Of The Desert (25/03/2008).
  • Of the approximately 18,000 horses bred each year by the closely related British and Irish racing industries, only around 40% go on to race. Many of the ‘defective’ newborns end up slaughtered for meat, while those who do enter racing suffer a high level of fatal injuries and stress-related illnesses, such as gastric ulcers and bleeding lungs. Around 6,000 British Thoroughbreds leaving racing each year, yet very few are properly provided for in their retirement.
  • View our undercover footage of horse slaughter
  • Read Animal Aid's report on breeding and slaughter

More information:

  • For full background and interviews, contact Andrew Tyler or Dene Stansall on 01732 364546.
  • ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.

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