Animal Aid


Posted 23 February 2009

Date: 25 February
Time: 14.00
Location: Jubilee Room (in Westminster Hall)
RSVP: Ekaterina Zatuliveter, Parliamentary Assistant and Researcher to Mike Hancock MP.
Tel: 020 7219 1102

Increasing concern regarding the fate of race horses in Britain has prompted Lib Dem MP, Mike Hancock, to invite MPs to a meeting at Westminster Hall on 25 February. He will be urging them to support a parliamentary motion (EDM 285), which calls on the Government to press the racing industry to curb over production of Thoroughbreds, and to remedy ‘the alarming level of equine death on British racecourses’. The EDM additionally calls on the Government to ‘undertake and put into the public domain a full audit of race horse production, death and injury’.

Mr Hancock has invited the national campaign group Animal Aid to the Westminster Hall meeting to provide MPs with evidence about equine deaths and injury rates on racecourses, and of the fate of horses who are deemed ‘unprofitable’ by their owners. The group has been producing detailed exposés relating to race horse welfare for more than a decade. In March 2007, Animal Aid launched an online database, ‘Race Horse Deathwatch’, which details fatalities on British racecourses, using all available evidence. However, the national campaign group recognises that not every Thoroughbred death comes to its attention. In September 2007, Animal Aid filmed undercover at a Somerset horse abattoir where it found apparently fit and healthy young Thoroughbreds being sent for slaughter.

Approximately 18,000 foals are born into the closely-related British and Irish racing industries each year, yet only around 40 per cent go on to race. Some horses who do not make the grade are used in other equestrian events but many are slaughtered for meat, destroyed, or repeatedly change hands in a downward spiral of neglect. In addition, more than 400 horses die or are destroyed due to racecourse or training injuries.

Last week, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) wrote to all signatories of Mike Hancock’s parliamentary motion in an attempt to put a favourable spin on the issues of death and over production that the EDM highlights (see notes to editor). Despite its best efforts to conceal the bad news, the BHA’s briefing concedes that it does not know the fate of the approximately 10,000 horses bred annually by the racing industry but who do not go on to race: nor does it know what happens to around 3,750 of the 7,500 horses who leave racing every year.

Says Mike Hancock MP:

'Most people think of racing as a harmless fun sport but what my EDM makes clear is that there are major hidden problems relating to horse welfare. Industry self-regulation is not working. It’s time the Government cracked down on issues such as irresponsible over production of race horses and the consequent slaughter of large numbers of unwanted animals. It must also act decisively on the alarmingly high number of horses who die on racecourses or in training.'

Says Andrew Tyler, Director of Animal Aid:

‘We are very grateful to Mike Hancock for his important parliamentary initiative on race horse welfare. For too long, the industry’s regulatory body has refused even to publish the most basic information on equine injuries and deaths. The time for the industry to account for its shameful treatment of horses is long overdue.’

Notes to Editors

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