Animal Aid reveals McCoy’s record 25 horse deaths in just six years

Posted on the 1st November 2013

As celebrity jockey AP McCoy approaches a landmark total of 4,000 wins in a career spanning more than 20 years, the unpalatable truth omitted from the growing hype is the shocking number of horses who have died under him on racecourses.

Since Animal Aid launched its Race Horse Deathwatch database in March 2007, no fewer than 25 horses ridden by McCoy died – in Britain alone – during or soon after he completed the race. Among the most famous casualties was Cheltenham Gold Cup Champion Synchronised, ridden by McCoy at the 2012 Grand National. After falling at Becher’s Brook, Synchronised ran on for five more fences before suffering a leg fracture. The death of this champion received considerable media coverage. This was not the case with most of the other 24 deaths. They include Fier Normand (FR), Baron Breeze and Masjoor – all of whom broke a leg; and Darlan, who fell and broke his neck. Animal Aid has been unable to identify all the horses ridden by McCoy who died on course during his more than 20-year career, but a report we published in 2005 noted that during the four years between 2000 and 2004, 17 of his mounts perished during or soon after the race.1 The 25 McCoy-related fatalities logged on Animal Aid’s Race Horse Deathwatch database could be short of the true figure.2 The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) was recently forced to admit, in response to a parliamentary question3, that the total number of on-course equine deaths over the past three years was around 36 per cent higher than Animal Aid had been able to detect and record. Based on the 25 fatalities figure, one horse died for every 211 raced by McCoy.4 An analysis published last May by Animal Aid found that this attrition rate was not out of step with that of other leading riders. In fact, the Professional Jockeys Association said at the time that, for jockeys in general, racing suffered ‘on average one fatality for every 200 starts’5 Rather than celebrating McCoy’s imminent 4,000 wins milestone, Animal Aid is urging the public to withdraw its support from all commercial horse racing. The price paid by the horses, insists the national campaign group, is far too high. Race horses die in large numbers on racecourses and in training – and the sum of money the industry allocates for the rehabilitation and care of horses after they have finished racing is pitifully small. As a result, many are sent for slaughter, or they are peddled in auctions and through the back pages of horse magazines. See the names of McCoy’s horses who died, the injuries they suffered and where the deaths occurred. Says Animal Aid’s Horseracing Consultant, Dene Stansall,

‘Amidst all the cheers and back-slapping associated with McCoy’s record-breaking career, we hear not a word about the 25 horses who perished in the last six years alone, while being ridden by the jockey, or soon after the race finished. The silence clearly indicates that, either horse welfare is of little concern to the industry, or that the deaths of so many horses is something the racing world is determined to conceal from the public. We urge people not to support this so-called sport, with their betting money and racecourse attendance fees.’

More information

  • For full background and interviews, contact Andrew Tyler or Dene Stansall on 01732 364546
  • Visit Animal Aid’s Deathwatch website

Notes to Editors

  1. See This Unsporting Life
  2. In 2010, Animal Aid’s Deathwatch recorded a total of 145 deaths, when the true figure was 225. The equivalent figures for 2011 and 2012 are respectively 157 (BHA – 171) and 143 (BHA – 211).
  3. View the parliamentary question
  4. Between April 2007 and October 2013, McCoy had 5,275 rides.
  5. Read The Sunday Times article based on Animal Aid’s findings

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