From March 13 to 16, the Cheltenham english racecourse welcomed the Cheltenham Festival, a major horse racing festival. However, some of the horses paid a heavy price this year with six having to be euthanised after sustaining serious injuries during the event.
Among the six horses that died at the festival, four were in the last day. One suffered a leg injury during the County Hurdle while the other three died following the Grand Annual Chase.
For Jamie Stier, chief regulatory officer for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), such a large number of injuries and horses having to be euthanised is very difficult to acknowledge. He said to the BBC:
Everyone who follows this sport does so because we love these fine animals and it is extremely sad when we lose any horse.
For the World Horse Welfare, "none of these fatalities can be accepted as a by-product of the sport".Unfortunately for Cheltenham racecourse, this isn't the first time an alarming number of horses have died following a race on their ground. In 2016, 10 horses died and 12 in 2017, four of which taking place over the three days which followed.
The BHA has no choice but to carry out a review of the racecourse over the coming days. The course itself as well as the rules regarding the race, notably the use or overuse of a whip, will be reviewed with the aim of "[reducing] fatality rates to as close to zero as possible".The RSPCA pointed out that a similar review "was carried out at Aintree in 2012 which has since reduced horse falls, injuries and fatalities".As it stands, according to NGO Animal Aid, horseracing is responsible for the death of around 200 horses a year in England during a race with about a thousand being sent to the slaughterhouse after a drop in performance.