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INJURIES AND FATALITIES

Like most sports, racing carries risks. No one wants to see valuable and valued racehorses killed and injured. The Authority’s aim is to ensure that no death or injury takes place which could have been prevented. The measures in place towards this aim include:
  • Racecourses have experienced Veterinary Surgeons and horse ambulances to ensure rapid treatment
  • We monitor and assess all racecourse injuries and fatalities
  • Our Veterinary Officers oversee racehorse welfare on every raceday and ensures horses are fit to race
  • Our Course Inspectors review all race surfaces and jumps
  • Strict anti-doping rules and testing ensure drugs do not mask injuries
  • Racecourses, the Authority, and people in racing all work through day to day improvements and research to reduce risks
  • We conduct detailed investigations if we are concerned at increased incidence of fatalities or injuries
  • Racing talks to welfare organisations, including the RSPCA, SSPCA and World Horse Welfare and they can, and do, attend races
A particular challenge is that around 1/3 of fatalities are long bone fractures. Despite veterinary advances there remain huge mechanical difficulties where a repaired bone must be part of the support for a half a ton horse. The recuperation of a large four legged animal remains a major surgical and welfare challenge.

Over the past few decades, despite a substantial increase in the number of runners, the average number of fatalities in a year has decreased. We hope to see that number reduced still further.

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© British Horseracing Authority 2012

At present overall about 2 in every thousand runners are fatalities. Flat and All Weather racing accounts for around 0.6 fatalities of every thousand runners, Jump racing accounts for just over 4 fatalities of every thousand runners.

Example layout of reports sent to Racecourses We regularly update racecourses with a detailed report on injuries and fatalities based on on-going five year statistical analysis of injuries and fallers at the course in question to assess potentially developing trends.

Courses respond with changes if required.

We conduct detailed investigations if we are concerned at increased incidence of fatalities or injuries. Where these investigations are course specific, the process involved includes:

• Thorough review of the career profiles of the injured horses, including any previously recorded on-course injury that they may have sustained;
• Video analysis of all incidents by the Authority's Course Inspectorate and Senior Veterinary Staff;
• Mapping of serious injury incidents to establish whether there may be any localised track factors;
• On-site review of condition of track, fences/hurdles and racing programme as applicable involving racecourse Executive and Senior Authority Staff;
• Specific follow up action points for racecourses and/or trainers as necessary.

We do publish summaries of our investigations if particular issues do arise, for example at:

We recognise there is still more to do, and because of the clearly greater risk we are especially focusing our efforts on jump racing. Racing is funding work based on epidemiological studies that identify modifiable risk factors to enable the design and implementation of appropriate and effective interventions for jump racing. As with previous work the results of these studies will be published.

Use of such racetrack epidemiology is as close as the industry can get to the very strong evidence provided by randomised controlled trials. It is important to use very large amounts of data taken over several years to ensure results, such as risk factor, is statistically robust and can be reliably applied across racing as a whole. This is why the Authority publishes figures that cover a number of years, but does not publish at greater frequencies or breakdowns by course or other factors.

General information on individual horses is publically available, but the Authority also respects veterinary medical privacy for owners of horses that do die.

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