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THE JOCKEY CLUB
Posted 21 February 2002
Animal Aid tells Jockey Club - 'Yes, we'll meet. But pledge £5 million p.a. for retired racehorses.'
Animal Aid, which is planning a mass protest at this year's Grand National, has been invited to a meeting with the Jockey Club to discuss horse welfare.
The national animal rights group has agreed to the invitation from the JC's director of public relations but has insisted that 'rather than an exchange of pleasantries, we would be seeking a commitment from the Jockey Club to win a pledge from the racing industry that it will provide, from this season onwards, not less than £5 million annually for the care of racehorses in retirement.'
Some 4,000 racehorses leave the industry each year. Few enjoy a decent retirement. Many endure a downward spiral of neglect - passed from owner to owner. Others are slaughtered for pet food. The industry provides just £200,000 a year for the care of retired racehorses in a scheme that is less than two years old. Such an amount is sufficient to 'retrain' just 50 horses. Animal Aid calculates that some 1000 animals annually are in urgent need - with each requiring no less than £5,000 in their first year, for rehabilitation, veterinary care and other basic support.
In its response to the JC's John Maxse, Animal Aid points out that £5million pounds 'is a pittance in the context of an industry where the prize money for a Derby winner is more than £500,000, and where the horse racing-related income of the major bookmakers runs to hundreds of millions of pounds every year. These Big Three, nonetheless, are reported to have refused to give more than a token amount to the industry's retirement scheme.
The Animal Aid letter adds that 'whatever sum is provided, it will be insufficient to tackle the problems arising from over-breeding of equines.
Around half of all the 8,000 foals bred to race by the industry each year fail to make the grade and are put down before they ever see the starter's flag. This one statistic alone amounts to a devastating indictment of a ruthless industry - made all the more shocking by the Jockey Club's nauseating claim that 'our top priority is the safety and welfare of [the] horse...'
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