The racing industry is sending horses as young as two to the abattoir.

Posted on the 15th August 2023

Ahead of National Racehorse Week (9-17 September 2023), Animal Aid has released data showing that more than 1,000 horses from the racing industry were slaughtered for their meat last year.

In 2022, a total of 2,110 horses were slaughtered in England and Ireland. Of those victims, 1,165 (55%) held passports from the racing industry. In Ireland, 256 horses with Weatherbys passports were aged three or younger when they were sent for slaughter.

In July 2021, BBC Panorama’s The Dark Side of Horse Racing exclusively featured Animal Aid’s undercover footage of horses, including those rejected by the racing industry, being slaughtered. Panorama’s researchers were also able to demonstrate that even race horses who had had prestigious careers – like Vyta Du Roc, who had won more than £175,000 – were slaughtered for their meat. There was an immediate outcry from the racing industry.

Following the revelations, Horse Racing Ireland Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh, responded that the images broadcast were ‘abhorrent to all within Irish racing and in no way reflect the care and attention given to the overwhelming majority of horses in Ireland”.

The British Horseracing Authority was reported as saying that it had “a clear commitment to improving already high standards of care for racehorses… before, during and after racing”.

Despite Horse Racing Ireland receiving 72 million euros in funding from the Irish government, and a rule change by the British Horseracing Authority that stipulated that any horses running in Britain would have to be signed out of the food chain, horses from the racing industry are still ending up at the abattoir.

Says Fiona Pereira, Campaign Manager at Animal Aid:

‘I think we need to be really, really clear that, contrary to the racing industry’s spin, slaughter is categorically not “euthanasia”. If you have an animal euthanised, you will pay a vet to put them to sleep either at your home or at a veterinary surgery. With slaughter, however, the owner is transporting the animal to an abattoir, where they will receive money for that animal’s meat – that is to say, you are squeezing every last ounce of value out of that animal, despite the horror they will certainly face at the abattoir. 

‘What the figures show is that nothing has really changed since our 2021 footage was released on BBC One. The racing industry is still mass-producing foals, and ‘dealing’ with the problem of surplus horses by sending them to the abattoir. And, we don’t even know how many of them end up at the knacker’s yard rather than the official abattoir. It’s just sickening to think of these beautiful animals’ lives being snuffed out because they are failing to make enough money for a greedy industry.’


Animal Aid has discovered, via Freedom of Information requests to the Food Standards Agency and to the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine in Ireland, that horses who hold Weatherby’s passports (the official passport issuer of the racing industry) are still being slaughtered in England and Ireland.

  • In 2022, 548 horses were slaughtered in England. Of that number, 148 had Weatherby’s passports.
  • In 2022, 1,562 horses were slaughtered in Ireland. Of that number, 1,017 had Weatherby’s passports.

Click here to see Animal Aid's undercover horse slaughter investigation

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