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DAMNING REPORT - Campaign coverage
Posted 1 March 2003
The following report by Seb Vance appeared in the Racing Post on 31st March 2003, following the release of our new report, Riding for a Fall.
Animal rights group Animal Aid has released a new report timed to coincide with this week's Martell Cognac Grand National meeting which claims to demonstrate "how the modern thoroughbred is buckling under increasing pressure".
The report, Riding For A Fall - The Genetic Time Bomb at the Heart of Racing, has been released to mark "Horse Racing Awareness Week".
Animal Aid says that information sourced from scientific journals and industry data has revealed a declining percentage of foals deemed sufficiently healthy and robust to make the grade.
The report claims:
"Bone fractures - once rare among Flat racers - are now common, as a result of widespread in-breeding for speed.
"Gastric ulcers and bleeding lungs are endemic. Top breeding stallions are so over-worked that two of the three most coveted males both died in 2001 from suspected exhaustion.
"Breeding females are subjected to a punishing regime of artificial treatments to control and speed up reproduction.
"And pressure is building for the introduction of technologies currently prohibited by racing's authorities. These include artificial insemination, embryo transfer and cloning."
The report also highlights parallels to livestock production, saying that both are "committed to profit-driven mass output of progeny and the acceptance of a high wastage rate".