Animal Aid

RIDING FOR A FALL - The genetic time bomb at the heart of racing

Beneath the glossy facade, the very foundations of the 'sport of kings' are being threatened, due to the reckless manner in which the industry is exploiting its most precious resource.

A comprehensive analysis of industry data, scientific journals and commentaries by leading racing insiders, demonstrates that the modern thoroughbred is buckling under increasing and relentless pressure. The findings are contained in Riding for a Fall, a major new report by Animal Aid.


The exploitation of the thoroughbred horse.

Part 1: Worked to death

The breeding stallion, the mare's burden, throughput and output.

Part 2: Ruining the horses

The offspring, hard 'remedies', the Animal Heath Trust and lethal experiments.

Part 3: Raced to death

300 deaths a year, the Grand National, and what happens when the racing is over.

[PDF version]
[Horse Racing Awareness Week index]

"Many learned students of this sport think the creature on which it all depends may now be in decline. Their disturbing contention is that excessive inbreeding for speed, as well as breeding [from] horses whose congenital defects may have been masked by so-called 'medications', has turned, or is turning, the thoroughbred (which don't forget is a human invention...) into an increasingly fragile and vulnerable creature that is having ever greater trouble meeting the demands we place on it. This view has been supported by trainers coming to the end of their own careers who say the proportion of yearlings who stand training long enough to become racehorses is much lower now than it was, say, 30 years ago."

Racing Post columnist Paul Haigh, October 31, 2002

Written by Andrew Tyler, director, Animal Aid
Key research by Kareena Grey of Discover Racing Death, Dr Tim O'Brien, independent animal welfare researcher, Dene Stansall, and Kathy Archibald, Animal Aid science researcher. All photos by Brian Moody, except horse with broken leg.

Published by Animal Aid, March 2003. ISBN: 0-9508990-7-0

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