Animal Aid

Cheltenham Claims its First Victim: Lush Life

Posted 17 March 2011

The 2011 Cheltenham Festival claimed its first equine victim on the third day of the event, when Lush Life was destroyed after being pulled up with a damaged right hind leg. With the organisers apparently keen to avoid the embarrassment of having to erect tell-tale green screens in front of the large crowd, the six-year-old is understood to have met his fate in a quiet part of the Gloucestershire course.

Lush Life had just completed one circuit of the 3-mile Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle when he was taken out of the race injured. Trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty, he had won four of his eight races and been placed twice.

Lush Life is the 33rd horse to be killed at the Festival since 2000.

Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall, was at the side of the course and witnessed Lush Life’s injury: ‘It was distressing to see Lush Life clearly in such great pain. He was drawn, hobbling, into the horsebox and taken on a journey across the course away from the crowds. It’s disgraceful that these horses are made to suffer and die at courses like Cheltenham. It’s little wonder that those responsible seem to do their best to keep the whole thing out of sight of the paying public.’

Animal Aid has for many years expressed deep concern for all those horses forced to compete at the Cheltenham Festival. Despite relocating an especially treacherous fence for this year’s event, racing at Cheltenham remains highly challenging and statistically the most lethal course in Britain. Four horses died last year – the highest number of Festival deaths since 2006, when 11 horses perished.

More information:

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

Notes to editors:

  • View photos of Lush Life’s last moments
  • The 2011 Festival coincides with the fourth anniversary of Animal Aid’s Race Horse Deathwatch – a unique online database that monitors all thoroughbred fatalities on Britain’s racecourses. Since its launch in March 2007, we have recorded nearly 650 deaths on Britain’s 60 racecourses; Cheltenham is the most hazardous course of them all. The data for the past 12 months will be available shortly.
  • View our powerful 90-second web film

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