Calls to stop racing as horse is killed at the Cheltenham Festival

Posted on the 12th March 2019

National animal campaign group, Animal Aid, is calling for racing at Cheltenham to be immediately suspended after the death of race horse Ballyward on the first day of the 2019 meeting.

The young seven-year-old gelding was competing in the notorious National Hunt Chase – a demanding 4-mile race for novice horses and amateur riders – when he fell with fatal consequences. Only four of the 18 horses competing were able to finish this demanding race. This particular race has, historically, been a death trap for horses and little has been done to improve its abysmal safety record.

Last year’s four-day Cheltenham Festival saw seven horses lose their lives. Public pressure prompted a review and recommendations from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) but with little or no changes to this particular race.

Welfare concerns for race horses around the world are growing, with public outrage at the racing industry. Only last week in the USA, top racecourse Santa Anita, suspended racing after a succession of deaths at the track. The racecourse chose to put the welfare of the horses ahead of economic gain. Cheltenham should act responsibly and follow suit.

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

‘Since 2007, at least 97 horses have lost their lives as a result of racing at Cheltenham. It’s not, therefore, unreasonable to stop racing at Cheltenham in order to save horses’ lives. If Santa Anita Racecourse can do this after a spate of deaths, then so can Cheltenham. The spotlight is now on the Racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority to act with immediate effect.’

Editors’ Notes

  • For more information contact Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall on 01732 364546
  • The names and details of all horses killed at Cheltenham since 2007 can be viewed on our website, Race Horse Deathwatch
  • In October 2018, a debate took place in Parliament after 105,000 people in the UK signed a government petition to remove the BHA from their welfare role and replace them with a truly independent body which would have horse welfare as its only remit.

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