Two horses die yet again at the Cheltenham Festival
In recent history, the Cheltenham Festival has struggled with keeping the death toll of competition horses at a minimum. Two years ago, we saw seven horses lose their lives during the highly anticipated racing festival. Last year, four more tragically died in the space of 3 days as many jockeys criticised the condition of the famous course.
The problem doesn’t seem to be getting any better. It’s heartbreaking to hear that two more have already passed away on the opening day of the 2018 edition.
Cheltenham has previously been labeled as ‘Britain’s most dangerous racecourse’ and no favours have been done this year to lift the weight from their shoulders, as two Irish horses Mossback and Report to Base fell in separate races and had to be put down due to serious injury. A combination of tricky jumps and poor surface conditions could be to blame for these tragic events.
This has lead to many welfare agencies and equine fanatics pleading for action to be taken against the British Horseracing Authority, who are ultimately responsible for the safety regulations for any horse or jockey who competes at one of their venues or in one of their competitions.
AnimalAid has set up their own petition online to try and introduce a new governing body that will focus solely on assessing the risks to a horses life. They’re hoping this petition will gain enough signatures to be considered as a debate in parliament, where surely some changes would be made to the current format, which has failed on so many occasions.
It seems extremely cruel that over 60,000 spectators turn up to watch and gamble on these races for their entertainment, whilst the animals who take part in the sport involuntarily, are dying due to careless preparation.
It is very likely that we haven’t seen the last of the fatalities from this year's festival, as people are expecting the final count to repeat the horrors of the last few editions.
Not only should we be focusing on the race organisers, as it could be argued that they don’t have complete control over the outcome of every horse's race - this is often down to the jockey. It’s been well reported in the past that some jockeys badly mistreat their animals, we’ve seen punching, kicking and hitting from some jockeys in the past. But is it possible that their aggressive approach to racing only increases the risk of death? We know that they’ll use a whip to encourage their horse to run faster or jump better, but surely a horse will be more prone to making mistakes when they have their mind fixed on the next whipping.
Whatever the situation is, we can agree that some changes need to be made very quickly to prevent these stories becoming a daily reality. Check out AnimalAid’s petition here, and keep an eye out for more sad news in the coming days.