|Photo Paulo Camera|
It was very distressing to see these animals being raced to their deaths. To enter any animal into a sport where injuries and deaths are an almost daily occurrence is nothing short of animal abuse. We have recently seen five horses die at Cheltenham and throughout the year horses die in both the flat and National Hunt racing. But, given that half of all foals bred for racing fail to make the grade, the obvious fatalities are just the tip of the iceberg.
Commentators who compare horse racing with other competitive sports such as motor racing as having inherent risk completely miss the point: the big difference is that in these sports the competitors choose to take part whereas the horses have no choice.
Just as the BBC stopped covering Crufts when the welfare inpact of pedigree dog breeding was exposed, it might almost be glad to have lost the broadcast rights for this event, which is rapidly becoming an embarrassment. I hope that Channel 4 will question if this is something they really want to be promoting.
Members of the public should also consider if this is an industry they want to support before attending a race or placing a bet and sponsors need to think carefully about whether this cruelty is something they want associated with their brand.
It is clear that large-scale reform of horse racing is required, changing a few fences is clearly not the answer. From breeding and training, through to the races themselves, the welfare of horses must be the primary concern, something that is currently far from the case.