Animal Aid

Royal Ascot - Three Horses Dead

Posted 23 June 2014

In the final race of the 2014 Ascot meeting, five-year-old Tiger Cliff collapsed and died after crossing the finishing line. He was the third horse to die at this year’s meeting. The British Horseracing Association (BHA) vet stated that a possible cause of death for a young horse like Tiger Cliff was a heart attack, but denied that the temperature on the day (22C) would have been a contributory factor. In 2013, another horse, Thomas Chippendale, died on the same spot in similar conditions.

Earlier in the week (17 June), two horses lost their lives. The second race of that day saw two-year-old Case Statement break down badly, half way through the six-furlong (3/4 mile) Coventry Stakes. He was taken off the course in a horsebox and destroyed by vets in the racecourse stables away from the crowds. In the penultimate race on the same day, five-year-old grey gelding Sir Graham Wade broke down injured on the course - he, too, was destroyed.

Both horses’ injuries received little mention during the Channel 4 TV coverage, which was characterised by a smiling, celebratory commentary team, whose back-patting of the winning connections overrode any sign of sympathy for the poor horses.

The death of a third horse at the meeting was predictably described by an Ascot spokesperson as ‘very, very sad’, but as a ‘risk associated with the sport’. Every year, around 200 horses die on British racecourses yet no action is taken by the BHA to address the issue because, to many in racing, the death of a horse is a risk worth taking in the pursuit of glory and cash.

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