Many Clouds: a tragedy that need not have happened

Posted on the 29th January 2017

Many Clouds, the 2015 Grand National winner, collapsed and died after winning a gruelling race at Cheltenham on Saturday (28 January 2017). It was a tragedy that need not have happened.

Animal Aid warned the regulator, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), ten months ago that Many Clouds could collapse and die whilst racing. After winning the Grand National it was reported that he had physically suffered in a number of his races and needed oxygen to recover.

The BHA took ten days to give a brief unconcerned reply relating to the then nine year old gelding. This correspondence is available on request.

Sadly, on January 28, a thoroughly exhausted Many Clouds dropped dead in front of a loud, bustling crowd of race-goers, after running three and a quarter miles on very testing ground, jumping 21 fences and carrying a heavy weight of 11stone 10pounds (over 74kg). And, he faced this test on the most deadly and demanding racecourse in the country – Cheltenham. He was whipped and forced to race an ‘all-out’ finish against Britain’s top race horse, Thistlecrack, for the £57,000 first prize.

Many Clouds had already won for his billionaire owner, Trevor Hemmings, nearly a million pounds in prize-money, and achieved the ultimate racing goal of winning the Grand National. Yet he was forced to race on for nearly two years afterwards when he should have enjoyed a decent retirement.

Many Clouds is one just one of the thousands of race horses who are exploited daily by the racing industry. Many suffer the ultimate price of death on the racecourse.

At least 1,482 horses have been raced to death in the past ten years. Their names and the details of their deaths can be viewed on the Death Watch website.

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

‘The racing to death of Many Clouds was as predicable as it is tragic. All of those connected with the horse would presumably have known of his life-threatening health condition and they failed to act in the horse’s interests. The owner, Trevor Hemmings; the trainer, Oliver Sherwood; the jockey, Leighton Aspell; the Cheltenham Racecourse Management; the racecourse vet team; and not least, the racing industry regulator the British Horseracing Authority. These people should be held responsible for his death – nothing less is acceptable, and we will campaign to make them answerable for what happened today.’

Editors’ notes

  • For more information or to arrange an interview with Dene Stansall, please phone 01732 364546.
  • Copies of the correspondence between Animal Aid and the British Horseracing Authority are available on request.

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