BHA announces results of wide-ranging review into the deaths of horses at the Cheltenham Festival
THE future of jump racing could be under threat if horse welfare concerns are not addressed, a BHA report has concluded.
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A review prompted by the death of six runners at last season’s Cheltenham Festival has made 17 recommendations to minimise injuries at the world-famous sporting event.
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Vets will now check every horse due to line up at the four-day Festival in March, while weight claims for the conditional riders’ race will be abolished to encourage trainers to use more experienced jockeys.
The final race of the meeting – the historic Grand Annual Chase – will be restricted to 20 runners. There was a field of 22 – two off the maximum – when three horses were killed in the 2m handicap last season.
The report also highlighted that public attitudes to horse welfare are toughening. In a chilling warning it concluded that a failure to address those concerns could put the future of jump racing in jeopardy.
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BHA chief executive Nick Rust said: “British racing must work together to reduce the risk of injuries occurring at The Festival and indeed jump racing as a whole.
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“British racing has consistently and continuously improved its record on welfare outcomes over the last decade. However, Parliament has recently sent a clear message to our sport that we must raise our ambitions for welfare further.”
All races run over the last 11 years at the Festival were analysed in the detailed 67-page report covering more than 5,400 runners. There have been more than 300 fallers in that time.
Ian Renton, who runs Cheltenham Racecourse, said: “The welfare of all competitors will always be our number one priority.
“As part of staging world-class jump racing we are committed to delivering the very highest welfare standards.”