Racing in crisis as four horses killed in one day’s racing at Wincanton

Posted on the 20th March 2007

Racing is facing a crisis with seven horses known to have died on racecourses in just one week. The latest four victims all perished on Monday at Wincanton, Somerset.

One of the casualties, Priests Bridge, had recently given birth and had been out of action since September 2003. Two other Wincanton victims were novice jumpers racing in a crowded field.

The Wincanton fatalities come after the two favourites for the 14 April Grand National were destroyed as a result of falls at Cheltenham and then, on Saturday, at Uttoxeter.

Animal Aid research indicates that an average of 375 horses are raced to death every year. One-third die on racecourses, while the others are destroyed as a result of training injuries, or are killed because they are no longer commercially viable. The on-course attrition rate these past seven days is three times greater than the yearly average.

In addition to the four equine victims at Wincanton, jockey Jay Harris had to be flown to Yeovil hospital with internal and facial injuries.

The four horses who died at Wincanton are:

  • Warlord and Stars In His Eyes. The former fell in the crowded Elite Racing Novices Hurdle, bringing down Stars In His Eyes. The field was made up of 17 inexperienced runners.
  • Neysauteur was pulled up in the Countryside Raceday Handicap Chase after suffering a broken leg.
  • Priests Bridge crashed and fractured her neck at the second fence in the Glovers Novices Chase and died on impact. Having just given birth, she had been out of racing for 1,283 days. This was her first Chase event. Her previous 10 races had been over hurdles.

The other three casualties during the past week were Little Brick (a Grand National ante-post favourite) and Swift Thyne – both at Cheltenham. On Saturday, Nil Desperandum died at Uttoxeter.

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:

‘The deaths of four animals during a single day’s racing at Wincanton, has received alarmingly little media coverage. We now know of seven on-course fatalities occurring in just one week. The racing industry kills routinely and usually manages to dispose quietly of the bloody evidence. It is clear that the so-called regulators of the industry are either incapable or unwilling to begin to protect the welfare of the horses. While this carnage continues, we urge the public to withhold their support in the form of racecourse attendance fees and betting money.’

More information

Notes to editors

  • For full background and interviews, contact Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546.
  • ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.
  • Images are available on request.

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