Animal Aid

The Spectre of Death Comes to the Cheltenham Festival

Posted 9 March 2007

Date: 13 March 2007
Time: 1300 hrs
Location: The South - Centaur - Entrance (The Main Entrance)
Cheltenham Racecourse

The spectre of death - representing hundreds of equine fatalities - will be present at Cheltenham Racecourse on Tuesday. Animal Aid's Victorian lady will be dressed in dark, gothic robes and will be wearing a striking hat that features a model racehorse tumbling over a hurdle.

This genteel but sombre protest is to highlight the fact that 11 horses died at last year's Cheltenham Festival (six horses died in just one day of racing) - with a further three horses perishing in November 2006. Animal Aid will bring a tombstone to the demonstration in memory of those victims.

In 2005, the national campaign group conducted an analysis of thousands of racing results going back four seasons, and found that, for the 2004 National Hunt season, Cheltenham topped the list of the country's most hazardous courses.

Says Animal Aid Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall:

'In just four days last year, 11 horses perished. And Animal Aid's own thorough research shows that the course is the most lethal in the country. If the public knew what they were supporting with their betting and course attendance money, they would turn their backs on this Festival of Death. Cheltenham racecourse insists that it has now made the course safer. But the changes are cosmetic. We must hope that the predicted soft conditions for this year's event means that we will not see the carnage that was witnessed in 2006. '

Notes to editors

  • Around 375 horses are raced to death every year. Animal Aid has produced a report showing that 30% of these deaths occur during or after a race, with the remainder killed due to injuries received in training, or because they are considered to be no longer profitable.
  • Of the approximately 15,000 horses bred by the racing industry each year, only around one third go on to become racers. Many of the 'defective' newborns end up slaughtered for meat, while those who do enter racing suffer a high level of fatal injuries and stress-related illnesses such as gastric ulcers and bleeding lungs. Around 5,000 racers are retired each year, yet very few go on to lead out their lives in a sanctuary or adoptive home. It is clear that the horse racing industry is covering up what happens to its prize assets once they stop making money and are out of the public gaze.
  • For Animal Aid's report on breeding and slaughter
  • View our powerful 90-second web film about horse racing

More information

  • For full background and interviews, contact Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546 (out of hours: 07918 083774) or Dene Stansall at the event on 07780 756957.
  • ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.
  • Images are available on request.

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