The British Horseracing Authority will be carrying out a review after a total of six horses died at ‘Britain’s deadliest’ race course over the duration of Cheltenham Race Festival.
The race course had the highest number of deaths of horses in 2017 and currently holds the record for the highest number of deaths in a single day in Britain. In 2006, March 16, six horses died at the festival.
The British Horseracing Authority released a statement last night, in which Chief Regulatory Officer, Jamie Stier said: “I must first express my sympathy towards all those who will have loved and cared for the horses who suffered fatal injuries this week. Everyone who follows this sport does so because we love these fine animals and it is extremely sad when we lose any horse.
“The BHA will be reviewing the circumstances leading to the fatalities at the Cheltenham Festival. We will examine the evidence from the past week over the next few days, before deciding how we will pursue the review.
“We continue to use research, safety measures, regulation and education to reduce fatality rates to as close to zero as possible. This is what has contributed to the overall fatality rate within British racing reducing by a third in the last 20 years, and the fatality rate in jump racing reducing to below 0.4% of runners.”
On the first day of racing, Mossback fractured one of his front legs during National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup. The six-year-old was destroyed shortly after. Only six of the sixteen horses taking part in this race finished.
Broken backs, heart attacks, broken legs, bolt gun in the head: just another day at the races🐎. 2 horses died @CheltenhamRaces day 1 yesterday. Please sign & share petition for new independent body to stop horseracing suffering #YouBetTheyDie https://t.co/Y7MZcFIXu2 pic.twitter.com/Am4AuqfsEE
— HSI United Kingdom (@HSIUKorg) March 14, 2018
Report To Base also died on Tuesday following a fatal fall that fractured his neck. Le Rocher was also involved in the fall but is reported to be uninjured.
The last day of the festival saw four horses die, the same number of horses to die at Cheltenham in total during last year’s race festival.
Five-year-old gelding Sandsend tripped on the flat in the County Hurdle during a dash for the finish line. The Willie Mullins trained horse broke his near foreleg and was put down because of the injury.
Three horses died in the Grand Annual Chase. Dresden and North Hill Harvey were both destroyed after sustaining injuries when falling at jumps. Some Plan was distracted by a loose horse and fell, causing him fatal injuries.
“Cheltenham is the worst, the most dangerous racecourse in the country.” Dene Stansall, (Animal Aid) told @BBCRadioWales this morning.
— Animal Aid (@AnimalAid) March 16, 2018
Animal welfare organisations such as Animal Aid and PETA have reacted to the deaths at Cheltenham Race Course.
Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall told Park Life Sport: “Animal Aid are campaigning to the media, general public and politicians to try and get changes at Cheltenham so that horse safety becomes a paramount issue for them.
“There are a number of reasons why Cheltenham is more dangerous than other race courses, such as the unforgiving fences, the number of horses in races, the long distances and hilly courses.
“If they are passionate about horses’ welfare and are keen to prevent this astronomical number of horses dying, then they need to start to put words into action and get changes made at the course.”
PETA released a statement that criticised the way that the race industry treats horses; they said: “Horses bred for greed and speed are pushed beyond their natural abilities and forced to run at breakneck pace on this deliberately hazardous course.
“Those who don’t sustain horrific injuries when they crash face-first onto the track may suffer heart attacks, bleed from their lungs, or develop painful ulcers and other health problems that come only from being pushed to the breaking point for human amusement.”