4 Die at Cheltenham Festival 2014

While this page holds that all horseracing is wrong, there is perhaps no more vile form than the steeplechase (“jumps”), the kind of animal competition that comes with an expectation of bodies falling, breaking, and dying. And so it was last week at the Cheltenham Festival 2014 in England. Four days, four kills (one was in a flat race under National Hunt rules): Our Conor (broken back), day 1; Akdam (fractured leg) and Stack The Deck (fractured knee), day 2; Raya Star (fractured spine), day 4.

The meet’s leading jockey, Ruby Walsh, said this after Our Conor’s death (The Telegraph, 3/12/14): “Horses are horses. You can replace a horse.” Walsh, in a bit of poetic justice, would break his arm later in the Festival when his horse, Abbyssial, took this fall…

photo credit: The Telegraph
photo credit: The Telegraph
photo credit: The Telegraph
photo credit: The Telegraph

And this from the RSPCA’s “equine consultant,” David Muir: “If a horse has broken its leg, we have to look at the reasons why and see what we learn from it.” If the RSPCA still has more to “learn” from racing kills, then it should cease calling itself an animal protective organization. Take a stand – work to end horseracing.

And finally, the British Horseracing Association: “Despite the best efforts of all involved, as with participation in any sport involving speed and athleticism, there remains an inherent risk of injury.” More fatuous words were never spoken.

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  1. Yes Patrick, this Cheltenham meet was extremely brutal. Many friends of mine who are actually punters were completely upset and disheartened by the events of this four-day meet. Steeplechasing is repugnant and when a steeplechase horse makes it to retirement, it is beyond miraculous. I look at the magnificence of the horse Kauto Star and at 13 he survived 7+ years of steeple chasing and was a champion. He is a miracle horse.
    Even people who love horseracing can be completely repulsed by the steeplechase, One has to really wonder when they have made strides in modifying the jumps and these atrocious accidents still continue to happen, that the sport itself, while having a long tradition in the British Isles, is primed to be banned altogether.

    One point though the jockey Ruby Walsh in all fairness, was misquoted. He stated that, “horses are horses and it is not as though you are losing a family member”. That was the exact quote that was paraphrased by the Guardian and the Daily Mail. While to some of us that is no less horrendous than what he actually said, it should not have been paraphrased and then reported as a quote.

    Those four beautiful horses paid the ultimate sacrifice in the most brutal way. There was no reason for those barbaric fatalities.

  2. I am glad you corrected Ruby’s comment which as it stood was as brutal as the meetings this year. What can be done to stop this sad loss of beautiful equine life. Surely something can be done to reduce the loss of life to the minimum. Smaller fields I wonder?

    A Newman (Mrs)

  3. ” you can replace a horse” is the pervasive attitude throughout the horse industry. Actually, that attitude is emblematic of the people who make their living on the backs (no pun intended) of animals.

  4. It’s one thing if a human wants to risk injury or life in a dangerous sport, but quite another to use horses for the thrill of anything that puts their lives in jeopardy is cruel and barbaric. This notion that a ‘horse is just a horse, and can be replaced’, is unforgivable. Poetic justice for the man that said it would have been if he had broken his neck and spent the rest of his life paralyzed.

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