• Report finds no common factor to the 12 deaths, or that racecourse is unsafe
• Recommendations already being implemented
The British Horseracing Authority has concluded its review into the high number of fatalities – 12 – which occurred at Sedgefield Racecourse between the end of March 2007 and the end of March 2008.
Evidence was taken from the Authority’s Senior Veterinary Adviser Anthony Stirk, Inspector of Courses Chris Dennis and Sedgefield’s Clerk of the Course Charlie Moore. The review covered maintenance of the course, the career profiles of the horses, the ground conditions and the location of the injuries.
It has been concluded that there is no common theme to the 12 equine deaths and that the course is not unsafe for racing to continue.
The following factors led to that conclusion:
• 5 of the 12 fatalities fell, 5 of the 12 fatalities Pulled Up, 2 horses finished their race (one was a winner).
• 8 of the 12 fatalities were on either Good to Firm or Firm ground (in the context of 13 of the 18 fixtures being run on such ground during the period);
• 7 of the 12 fatalities were having their 1st or second run in that particular racetype;
• There is no clear location–related pattern to the incidents; Sedgefield’s chase fatality record has traditionally been very much around the national average. The faller rate has also been low. The chase faller rate increased in 2006 and 2007 and this will be kept under review.
• Drainage work was carried out last summer to improve the track and, in line with good practice, relevant areas were omitted until they had fully recovered;
• Regular aeration/decompaction work is already carried out;
• Irrigation is via a boom irrigator (best practice) and is being further upgraded;
• A new front-mounted track mower has been purchased this year;
• Hurdles are moved where possible, albeit in the context of a narrow track width;
• The fence rebuilding programme is in line with other courses;
• Running rail is often moved onto fresh ground.
In line with the sport’s commitment to minimise risks wherever possible, the following considerations – both regulatory and race-planning related – are being taken forward by Sedgefield and the Authority:
• More course irrigation. (8 of the 12 fatalities were on either Good to Firm or Firm ground). The upgrading of the watering system – already in progress prior to the initiation of this report – should facilitate this;
• The ratio of novice type races at the track. (7 of the 12 fatalities were having their first or second run in that particular discipline);
• Safety Factors (i.e. highest permitted field sizes at each start); The safety factors at the course have already been reduced for both hurdle and chase starts).
• The Course will continue to look at the possible creation of a 3m chase start to complement its existing 3m 3f start (albeit only 2 of the fatalities were in a 3m 3f race);
• The Chase faller rate increase in 2006 and 2007. (The Course will look at re-designing the fences without guard rails).
For further information please contact the Authority’s press office on 020 7189 3866.