Animal Aid

More Racehorses Sacrificed

Posted 29 October 2007

Saturday's stomach-churning death of the famous Coolmore-owned race horse, George Washington, at the US Breeders' Cup Classic was entirely preventable. This did not, however, stop sections of the racing press trotting out melodramatic clichés about this ‘enigma’ of a horse, whilst informing us that he had ‘earned’ more than £800,000 for his owners. After ‘failing’ at stud, the decision was made to return him to racing – just another example of the industry's habit of putting profit before the welfare of Thoroughbreds.

The race track looked more like a bog on Saturday, as heavy and persistent rain had turned the top layer of dirt into a liquid, exposing the horses to the hard surface below. Horses should not have been forced to participate in the $5 million race. Four-year-old George Washington shattered a bone in his foreleg, piercing the skin, just 100 yards from the finish. According to reports, he pawed at the ground with the damaged leg trying to make sense of his injury. The screens went up and he was killed.

The press have chosen to focus on the ‘grief’ of his trainer and owners instead of obvious issue – that horses forced to run in punishing races under disgraceful conditions will, inevitably, be hurt or killed.

Whilst George Washington's high profile death was screened around the world, an unknown 6-year-old mare, Valley Hall, suffered a similar fatal injury a few hours later at Towcester racecourse. Her death did not merit even a mention in the racing pages. Almost 100 horses have died on British racecourses alone over past seven months. Their details can be viewed at

This week, Animal Aid's British horse racing campaign also featured in an article by The People on Sunday. Click here to read more.

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