24 Jul 2006 Pre-2014 Releases


Published: Monday 24 Jul 2006

The Horseracing Regulatory Authority has published its report into the equine fatalities at the 2006 Cheltenham Festival.

The report, produced by the HRA’s Racecourse Department, details all the possible factors, including the individual horses, the going, obstacles, the weather, the race conditions and the riders and whilst it is unable to reach a definitive explanation for the abnormally high fatality rate, concludes with seven key areas of review or action.

Tony Goodhew, Director of Racecourse Licensing and Standards, said: “Many people have theories and opinions and there is rightly public concern when the casualty rate is so unacceptably high. This is exactly why we spent such a large amount of time and effort accumulating and examining all the facts and gathering expert opinions to establish if there were common factors in the fatalities.

“We could not be satisfied that any specific factor, or combination of factors, caused or linked the unusually high number of fatalities, although we are satisfied no fault rested with the Cheltenham Executive and the way the track had been prepared.

“The report does highlight, for example, that drainage is not the problem that some people perceived and it also highlights that the 10 year rolling fatality rate has reduced by just under 25% in the last 8 years, even including this year’s figures.

“However, because the safety and welfare of horses and riders are of paramount importance and continuous improvement is always being sought in these areas, we have made seven recommendations which we will now discuss with the Cheltenham Executive.”

The seven recommendations include a mandatory veterinary review of all runners at the Festival and a number of areas for the Cheltenham Executive to consider, including the conditions of the National Hunt Chase, safety factors and the siting of certain obstacles.

John Bridgeman, Chairman of the HRA, said: “Racing cannot afford to be complacent and should always be concerned when casualties are so high, as was the case at this year’s Festival. Whilst we all recognise that horseracing carries an element of risk for its participants, we are determined to minimise those risks through regulation and best practice.

“The Cheltenham Festival is jump racing’s Olympics and, working with the industry and the racecourse, the HRA is fully committed to minimising the risk and ensuring that the Festival remains a tough, but most importantly, fair test.

“Publishing this report in full, rather than distilled highlights, shows our desire to be transparent and accountable to the horseracing public. This will remain a fundamental principle of our regulation of British horseracing.”

Monday 24th July 2006

A full copy of the report is attached and is also available at