Horse Racing Breakdown

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 a breakdown for NSW tracks in 2021.

Injuries, Illnesses, & Deaths

In just three months of racing, 426 horses have sustained one or more injuries while running on NSW tracks.

January Deaths

Melted Moments and Noble Belle are two individuals who lost their lives due to the severity of their injuries.

February Deaths

Good As Gold was euthanised after suffering from a ruptured suspensory ligament resulted in luxation of the fetlock joint.

March Deaths

In March, three horses lost their lives on NSW tracks.

Lalvani was killed after sustaining a comminuted bilateral sesamoid fracture.

Stonehenge was killed after sustaining an injury to their leg.

Bella Cavalla was killed after fracturing her cannon bone.

Full breakdown, click here (PDF).

Injuries, Illnesses, & DeathsJanFebMar
Slow to recover / Poor post-race recovery544147
Lameness / Soreness / Strain443044
Abrasions / Lacerations / Graze / Speedy Cuts191721
Abnormal Respiratory Noise / Respiratory Distress / Coughing1098
Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hypertension (Bleeding lungs)6814
Atrial Fibrillation / Cardiac Arrhythmia545
Galloped on573
Other Injury544
Heat Stress312
Bowed Tendon222
Broken Teeth200
Thumps (Irregular Spasming of Diaphragm) 121
Tying Up (Stiff and in Pain) 110

The Stewards also report the number of horses who “made contact”, “bumped”, or “struck” another horse, barrier, or running rail, during the event. On many occasions, it happens more than once. 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.

Full breakdown, click here (PDF).

Made Contact / Bumped221317301
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.

Full breakdown, click here (PDF).

Disappointing / poor performance / Uncompetitive / Poor racing manners657461
Fractious / Agitated312426
Unsettled / difficult to ride / Intractable / Unresponsive1588
Reared / Escaped / Ran off / Dislodged rider11716
Poor barrier manners6152
Stood flatfooted / Refused to jump5104
Difficult to load542
Refused to load / go to barrier4511
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.

Full breakdown, click here (PDF).

Pre-Race Injuries & IllnessesJanFebMar
Other Injuries6103
Abrasion / Laceration6818
Struck head313
Blood in nostril202
Elevated temperatures110
Kicked by another runner032


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.

In February, 284 jockeys were noted as having “exceeded the permitted strikes of the whip prior to the 100m under AR132(7)(a)(ii)”. Only 20 were penalised, either with a fine or suspension.

In March, 276 jockeys were noted as having “exceeded the permitted strikes of the whip prior to the 100m under AR132(7)(a)(ii)”. Only 17 were reprimanded for breaking the racing rule.

Full breakdown, click here (PDF).

Whip use – generic image.