Animal Aid

Animal Aid's Spectre of Death to Visit Lethal Wetherby Racecourse

Posted 30 October 2009

Date: 30 October 2009
Time: 1p.m.
Venue: Wetherby Racecourse, York Road, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS22 5EJ

National animal rights group, Animal Aid, will hold a protest at Wetherby Racecourse to highlight the venue’s appalling safety record for Thoroughbreds. Animal Aid’s spectre of death – a Victorian lady, dressed in dark, gothic robes, wearing a striking hat that features a model race horse tumbling over a hurdle – will be leading the genteel and sombre demonstration.

Earlier this month, four horses were killed at the West Yorkshire course in a single day of racing. Two of the victims were just three years old. The total number of fatalities at Wetherby for this year now stands at ten.

The likelihood of injuries and fatalities at Wetherby Racecourse had been flagged up by Animal Aid, due to our concerns about the condition of the ground and drainage issues, following the widening of the adjacent A1 in 2007. Our Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall, contacted the RSPCA’s equine expert, David Muir, and asked him to inspect the course. Muir agreed and was present at the carnage of 14 October.

Animal Aid immediately wrote to the British Horseracing Authority demanding a suspension of racing at the troubled course. Our concerns appear to have fallen on deaf ears, and the Charlie Hall Meeting at Wetherby is set to go ahead on 30 and 31 October.

Says Dene Stansall:

‘It would seem, yet again, that racing’s regulators are more concerned with profit than the welfare of the horses. Even after I raised my fears about the course, and even after the RSPCA witnessed the appalling carnage with four horses dying in a single day of racing, the British Horseracing Authority is still perfectly happy for horses to race at Wetherby. If there are questions about the course, then the responsible thing to do is to suspend racing until a full and thorough investigation has taken place. It’s simply not good enough to write off the deaths of four Thoroughbreds in one day as an unfortunate accident. Sadly, this is what happens with a self-regulating industry that is not held to account by the government.’

Notes to editors:

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

More information:

  • The four horses who died at Wetherby Racecourse on 15 October were: Nut Hand, who finished his race lame, and Miss Gibboa, who fell and broke her leg. Two horses died in the feature race, the Bobby Renton Chase. Divex, an eight-year-old gelding, broke his foreleg and 11-year-old Marrel fractured his hind pastern. Another horse, Tom’s Toybox, sustained a serious fetlock injury.
  • Ten horses have died at Wetherby in 2009.
  • 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 7,500 British Thoroughbreds leave racing each year, yet very few are properly provided for.

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