2,000 British Race Horses Dead: The Shame of the Racing Industry


Animal Aid’s website Race Horse Deathwatch was launched in 2007 to expose the deaths of horses on British racecourses.

horse deathwatch website 3 Dec 2019
Image from Race Horse Deathwatch

The first horse whose death was entered on the website was called Little Brick. He was killed at the 2007 Cheltenham Festival. On November 29th 2019, the 2,000th victim, known as Beer Goggles, was fatality injured at Newbury.

This shocking number of individual victims were killed over a period of 4,645 days, which equates to the death of a horse almost every other day.

Even this is an underestimate of the numbers killed in racing because of the lack of transparency by the industry. The figure also excludes those killed through ‘elective euthanasia’ and others who die whilst in training away from the racecourse.

Every racecourse in Britain has seen a horse killed. The worst is Cheltenham, with exactly a hundred victims to its name.

Horseracing at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival. Image credit Carine06, CC BY-SA 2.0.

This shocking record of animal deaths, which should be called abuse, falls on the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), which is supposed to safeguard race horse welfare as part of its remit. It is clearly failing to stop the tide of deaths.

The BHA need to be replaced by a new horse welfare regulator – independent of racing industry representatives who have a vested interest in maintaining a ‘business as usual’ approach. The Liberal Democrats party has pledged, as part of its 2019 Manifesto, to “establish an independent regulatory body for horse welfare to prevent the abuse and avoidable deaths of racehorses.” Animal Aid would like to see the other political parties pledge to do likewise.

Says Dene Stansall, Animal Aid’s Race Horse Consultant, “The sheer volume of horses killed in racing is astounding but perhaps not surprising, given a regulator which for years has accepted deaths as part of a risk element of this so called ‘sport.’ This is no longer acceptable to a growing number of people and politicians alike. Racing is not only killing horses but its own industry.”

Featured image: a horse and jockey fall during a race. Image credit A.P.Photography., CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Animal Aid was founded in January 1977 to work, by all peaceful means, for an end to animal cruelty. Our vision is a world in which animals are no longer harmed and exploited for human gain, but allowed to live out their lives in peace. We work hard to bring an end to practices that involve animal abuse and exploitation, but we also take a pragmatic approach and call for measures such as CCTV in slaughterhouses, that will help to reduce suffering in the meantime. Click to see author's profile.

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