Calls for tighter safety measures in horse racing ahead of the Cheltenham Festival

National animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports is calling for tighter safety measures in horse racing ahead of the Cheltenham Festival at which 74 horses have died in 23 years.

At every single Cheltenham Festival since the year 2000 – apart from 2001, which was cancelled due to foot and mouth – at least one horse has died as a result of being raced. Emma Judd, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “As the festival gets underway again this year we know it’s inevitable at least one horse is going to die needlessly for entertainment.

“These shocking figures show that tighter safety measures are imperative to protect these animals and their jockeys."

“A new independent regulatory body with horse welfare as its number one priority needs to be created.”

The League is also campaigning for the use of the whip to be banned in horse racing, because it causes pain, and pushes tired horses beyond their limits.

An Early Day Motion in 2020 calling on the government to ensure the British Horse Racing Authority banned the use of the whip for ‘encouragement’, was signed by 97 MPs.

Its use was banned in Sweden in 2022, and it can now only be used to ward off a dangerous situation. Emma added: “In what other public spectacle or sport would the beating of an animal play an integral role in influencing the outcome or result?

“This callous disregard for the welfare of the horse has no place in a caring animal loving Britain and urgent steps need to be taken to end the use of the whip for ‘encouragement’ in horse racing.”


Notes to editors

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 or email

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 2004, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021, the strengthened fox hunting laws of the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act 2023 and a ban on the use of snares created by the Agriculture (Wales) Act 2023.

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