Animal Aid

700 horse deaths in four years cast shadow over royal Derby celebrations

Posted 3 June 2011

On the eve of the Epsom Derby, racing’s most prestigious event, eyes are turning to the Queen’s horse - Carlton House - the favourite for the big race.

But behind these celebratory scenes is the dark side of an industry that is failing the Thoroughbred. Animal Aid’s Race Horse Deathwatch website reveals that 700 horses have been killed on British racecourses in just over four years. And even this figure falls well short of the true tally. An authoritative industry source has provided Animal Aid, in confidence, with data indicating that the Deathwatch total is nearly 30 per cent short of the true figure.

Fatalities occur at an average rate of one every other day on Britain’s 60 racecourses. On June 1, eight-year-old gelding, Katalak, broke a leg while racing at Fontwell, and within hours, three-year-old filly Sobea Star was destroyed at Ripon racecourse in Yorkshire.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), which has responsibility for the welfare of race horses, has shown itself to be incapable of tackling the problems that beset the industry. Two deaths in April’s Grand National and the abuse of the winning horse with the whip, highlighted growing public, media and political concern about the failure to protect the welfare of race horses.

Says Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall:

‘It is time for the British Horseracing Authority to be stripped of its role as the regulator of race horse welfare. At least seven hundred deaths in just over four years is an appalling indictment of the BHA’s failure. And there are no signs of even a slight reduction in the rate of attrition.’

More information:

  • For full background and interviews, contact Andrew Tyler or Dene Stansall on 01732 364546. Out of hours: 07918 083774.
  • An ISDN line is available for broadcast-quality interviews.

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