Racing must be made accountable as another horse is killed at Cheltenham

Posted on the 18th December 2017

Just weeks after four horses were killed at Cheltenham racecourse, a horrendous scene emerged again this weekend (16 December 2017) at the Gloucestershire course, as a young race horse shattered a hind leg.

Racing in the 1.55 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase, over two-and-a-half miles and 17 fences, six-year-old Starchitect was in a clear lead. In the latter stages of the race, he appeared to take a bad step on what was far from perfect racing ground. His off-hind leg shattered. He was destroyed at the course.

The race was broadcast by ITV and the initial incident was seen live. However, the camera filming Starchitect suddenly and awkwardly focused away from the stricken horse, denying viewers a chance to see the reality of racing and the suffering of this horse. There was a distinct lack of any criticism by the commentary team of the racecourse, or any mention of the unacceptable demands made on horses. The sanitised reporting continued, with the racing community passing the death off with pathetic excuses. ‘It was just a freak accident’; ‘You couldn’t blame anybody’ and ‘It’s an unfortunate part of the game’, are comments reported in racing’s daily mouthpiece, the Racing Post. The lack of in-depth analysis as to the cause of the death, and lack of criticism, is shocking and disgraceful from this paper and the racing community.

Cheltenham’s death record is dreadful, with at least 84 horses named as deceased since March 2007 on Animal Aid’s online website, Race Horse Deathwatch. The statistics show that, approximately, a horse is killed for every two days racing at the course.

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

‘We believe Cheltenham has welfare problems that need to be urgently addressed. Someone has to be held responsible for the consistent pattern of horse deaths at this course, not just recently, but for many years. Horse deaths cannot be passed off by those connected with racing as accidents, which has been the case with Starchitect. The time has come to make racing accountable, since the British Horseracing Authority is failing in its duty of care to horses.’

Notes to editors


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