Horse Racing Breakdown: January

The racing industry presents itself as a fun, family-friendly event, but this is far from reality. Every month, hundreds of horses sustain injuries or suffer from illnesses after being forced to race in the name of entertainment.

Animal Liberation monitors the NSW Horse Racing Steward’s Reports to record how many horses display signs of an unwillingness to race, suffer from injuries, collide while running, and are over-whipped.

The following is the breakdown for January 2021.

Injuries, Illnesses, & Deaths

In just 31 days of racing, 155 horses sustained one or more injuries while running on NSW tracks. Melted Moments and Noble Belle are two individuals who lost their lives due to the severity of their injuries.

To view the full breakdown, click here (PDF).

Injuries, Illnesses, & DeathsNumber of Horses
Slow to recover / Poor post-race recovery54
Lameness / Soreness / Strain44
Abrasions / Lacerations / Graze / Speedy Cuts19
Abnormal Respiratory Noise / Respiratory Distress / Coughing10
Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Haemorrhage (Bleeding lungs)6
Atrial Fibrillation / Cardiac Arrhythmia5
Galloped on (Skin or Tendon Trauma)5
Other Injury5
Heat Stress3
Bowed Tendon2
Broken Teeth2
Thumps (Irregular Spasming of Diaphragm)1
Tying Up (Stiff and in Pain)1

The Stewards reported that 221 horses “made contact”, “bumped”, or “struck” another horse, barrier, or running rail, often on multiple occasions, while running. While not all of these collisions result in an injury, many are noted to become unbalanced after the contact, which increases their risk of injury.

For a full breakdown of collisions, click here (PDF).

Example of a Bleeder – generic image, not from discussed race. Credit: Matt Goins

Poor Behaviours & Unwillingness to Race

The Stewards take notes on the horse’s behaviour before and during the race. The behaviours, such as having poor performance, being fractious, uncompetitive, or refusing to be loaded into the barrier, are indicative of an unwillingness to participate.

Please note, some horses display more than one negative behaviour and are recorded multiple times.

For a full breakdown of the poor behaviours, click here (PDF).

BehaviourNumber of Horses
Disappointing / Poor Performance55
Fractious / Agitated31
Unsettled / difficult to ride / Intractable / Unresponsive15
Reared / Escaped / Ran off / Dislodged rider11
Poor Barrier / Racing manners6
Stood flatfooted / Refused to jump5
Difficult to Load5
Refused to Load4
Example of a Fractious Horse

Pre-Race Injuries & Illnesses

Before they even entered the race, 28 horses sustained one or more injuries or displayed signs of an illness.

For a full breakdown, click here (PDF).

Pre-Race Injuries & IllnessesNumber of Horses
Other Injuries6
Abrasion / Laceration6
Struck head3
Blood in Nostril2
Elevated Temperature1


Throughout January, 223 jockeys were noted as having “exceeded the permitted strikes of the whip prior to the 100m under AR132(7)(a)(ii)”, yet only four were penalised with a fine.

For a full breakdown, click here (PDF).

Whip use – generic image.

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