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Welfare Argument Reignited After Horse Shot Dead at Packed Raceground

25 September 2014

ANALYSIS - The argument on horse welfare has been reignited following the publication of photos showing a racehorse being shot dead after sustaining a broken leg, writes Gemma Hyland.

Champion racehorse, Wigmore Hall, was shot behind a large temporary screen at a packed Doncaster racecourse last week, after breaking a leg less than three furlongs from the end of a race.

Campaign group Animal Aid took the photo's of the seven-year-old horses final moments, which were later published in the Daily Mirror. 

Dene Stansall, Animal Aid's Horse Racing Consultant said: "The racing industry should be ashamed of its track record.

"Poor Wigmore Hall was one of a huge number of race horses who are destroyed each year because they're pushed too hard on the racecourse or are poor commercial prospects.

"His death is yet more evidence that commercial horse racing is a pitiless so-call sport that deserves not a shred of public support."

British Horseracing Authority 'Appalled'

Robin Mounsey, Media Manager for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), said: “We are appalled by the Daily Mirror’s decision to publish these photos, and also to contextualise the images in the manner that they have.

“All that the images show is a veterinary surgeon doing his job and carrying out an act of humanity to prevent an animal from suffering. They show the same actions as would be taken by a vet whether the incident was occurring on a racecourse or at home in a field and we do not understand where the public interest lays in publishing these images or why they should be used to open a debate about Horseracing.

“We will be seeking a meeting with the editor of the Daily Mirror in regards to this issue and the use of these photos in such a manner.

“It is typical of Animal Aid to use images such as this to drive their own publicity and agenda, which is not the welfare of thoroughbred horses. Animal Aid are not a welfare organisation, nor are they a charity. They campaign for the banning of Horseracing, despite the disastrous effect that this would have on the thoroughbred horse as a breed, and the rural economy.”

Jenny Hall, Chief Veterinary Officer for the British Horseracing Authority, added: “The sad incident involving Wigmore Hall was the only fatality at Doncaster racecourse’s Flat racing course this year from 1,563 runners.

“The first priority in British Racing is always the welfare of its competitors, both human and equine. The team of Veterinary Surgeons were at Wigmore Hall’s side in moments after the injury.

"The vets were able to make an immediate assessment of the Wigmore Hall’s condition and in this case the diagnosis was made that the injury was untreatable and so the correct course of action for Wigmore Hall’s welfare was for him to be humanely put down."

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Gemma Hyland, Editor

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