Campaigners on Cheltenham High Street today called for improvements in racehorse welfare and highlighted the animal cruelty and deaths associated with horse racing and the Cheltenham Festival.

Staff and volunteers from the League Against Cruel Sports and Gloucestershire Outreach Advocacy Team were pictured placing flowers next to a headstone commemorating the horses that have died at Cheltenham Racecourse in recent years.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“One death is too many. With horses regularly dying on racetracks, and Cheltenham among the worst offenders, it’s clear that the racing industry needs to take animal welfare more seriously.

“We urge the government to set up an independent regulatory body with horse welfare as its only concern.

“The League is calling for a ban on the whipping of horses as it encourages a horse to go beyond what it can comfortably do and result in injuries and stress.”

The headstone revealed that 86 racehorses have died on Cheltenham Racecourse between 2010 and 2020 with 39 dying at the Festival.

Horse racing headstone

The Cheltenham Festival saw the tragic death of Copper Gone West on Thursday who was destroyed after the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle. 2019 saw the tragic deaths of Invitation Only, Sir Eric and Ballyward. A total of 68 horses have lost their lives at the Festival since 2000.

According to Animal Aid’s Racehorse Death Watch, in 2018 Cheltenham recorded the second highest number of fatalities on racecourses across the UK, with 10 horses dying. Six horses died at the racecourse in 2019, and two have died on the course in 2020.

Gordy Tye, a spokesperson for Gloucestershire Outreach Advocacy Team, said:

“Most people attending or betting on races have little to no knowledge of what their participation is funding. Many regard horse racing as a harmless sport in which the horses are willing participants. We expose the truth behind horse racing – not only the many visible and harrowing deaths that occur at the track but the thousands of horses that are disregarded and killed by the racing industry.

“We hope to continue with the great work we have done in previous years – people who normally have a 'harmless flutter' have left us saying they no longer want to be a complicit part in such a cruel 'sport'.”

Figures released by the British Horse Racing Authority showed that 173 horses lost their lives during competitive races in 2019.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Pictured is League Against Cruel Sports regional campaign manager Emily Lawrence laying flowers on the headstone commemorating all the horses that have died at Cheltenham Racecourse.

Photograph by Gordy Tye from Gloucestershire Outreach Advocacy Team.

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]

The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).