Horse racing is often referred to as the “Sport of Kings”, alluding to the idea of glamour and prestige. This, however, is far from the reality. Every horse entered into a race is at risk of sustaining an injury, or worse, death. While horses are physically capable of running, forcing them to compete with somebody on their backs, places their bodies under immense pressure and as a result, many break down.
The following is a summary of the NSW Horse Racing Steward’s Reports from 1st July 2020 to 31st December 2020. The Steward’s provide a brief summary of every race in NSW, noting any behaviour issues, injuries, deaths, jockey errors, and over-whipping that takes place. We have summarised these into “Deaths”, “Injures”, “Collisions”, and “Behaviours” that are indicative of not wanting to race. We have also recorded the number of times jockey’s over-whipped and were not charged for breaking the rule.
Please note, all information has been taken from the NSW Racing Steward’s Reports, which you can find here. Please note, some horses are listed in multiple summary tables and may have sustained more than one injury.
In just six months, seventeen horses died or were killed after sustaining an injury whole racing on NSW tracks. Three individuals collapsed and died on the track suffering from cardiorespiratory failure, while the others were killed for sustaining catastrophic injuries, such as a fractured pelvis, leg, or dislocations.
The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses analyses all race reports in Australia, and they have found that one horse dies every three days on Australian tracks. While these deaths may only make up a small percentage of the total horses raced, one death is too many. Their lives are worth more than gambling money.
While the industry claims that euthanasia is the “humane” procedure to take, we argue that these animals should never have been placed in the situation in the first place because of the known risks.
|07 Jul||Newcastle||Three Sheets||EUTHANISED: Suffered injury to near-foreleg and was retired from race.|
|09 Jul||Kembla Grange||I Am A Country Boy||EUTHANISED: catastrophic injury to off-foreleg|
|18 Jul||Lismore||Our Boy Ben||EUTHANISED: Fracture Sesamoid near fore leg (suspected) – broke down and eased out of event, euthanised later date|
|25 Jul||Rosehill||Hot ‘N’ Hazy||EUTHANISED: Colt fell and suffered catastrophic injury to near fore leg|
|25 Jul||Coonabarabran||Canvas||EUTHANISED: fractured pelvis|
|8 Aug||Coffs Harbour||Rosy Elsie||DIED: Collapsed and died after running|
|19 Aug||Canterbury Park||Sacred Captain||DIED: Collapsed, exercise associated sudden death, cardiorespiratory failure, and died|
|22 Aug||Inverell||Davor||DIED: Collapsed at 350m and died|
|04 Nov||Grafton||Echo Lad||EUTHANISED: fractured sesamoid and suspensory breakdown in the near fore leg|
|09 Nov||Lismore||Somebody Loves You||EUTHANISED: bilateral front suspensory breakdown and dislocation|
|13 Nov||Canterbury Park||Alrillo||EUTHANISED: injury to its near fore leg|
|14 Nov||Bathurst||Turcotte||EUTHANISED: fractured off fore pastern|
|9 Aug||Dubbo||Major Zariz||EUTHANISED: barrier trial: fractured pelvis|
|23 Oct||Scone||Lucky Shadow||EUTHANISED: blundered, broke down and suffered catastrophic luxation of near fore fetlock|
|18 Dec||Goulburn||Cubman||EUTHANISED: injury to pelvic area, retired, killed|
|26 Dec||Queanbeyan||Opposite||EUTHANISED: injury to fore fetlock|
|15 Sep||Taree||Fastquest||EUTHANISED: clipped heels of another runner, fell and fractured radius to near foreleg after finish line|
An additional five horses were killed after competing in a trial or during routine track work. One Last Throw, who was killed in April, has also been included as their death was still being investigated.
|21 April||One Last Throw||EUTHANISED: Severe colic (only just reported)|
|31 Aug||Rosehill||God Of Thunder||EUTHANISED: Trial: fracture to the pelvis.|
|30 Oct||Codebreaker||DIED: Trial – suffered exercise associated sudden death as a result of cardiorespiratory failure.|
|18 Nov||Muswellbrook||Whitely||DIED: Trial|
|19 Nov||Loudaz||EUTHANISED: Trackwork: proximal radial humeral fracture.|
|The Last Roadie||EUTHANISED: Trackwork: fracture to proximal end of left metacarpus.|
Injuries and Health Issues
In 6 months, 780 horses suffered from one or multiple injuries or health issues while racing on NSW tracks. While not all of these injuries are life-threatening, it highlights the risks involved with racing horses. To view the full breakdown, please download the report here (PDF).
Please note, some horses have since been retired as a result of their injuries and health issues.
|Injury / Health Issue||Number of horses|
|Abnormal Respiratory Noise / Respiratory Distress||36|
|Abrasion / Graze||23|
|Aggravated Old Wound||2|
|Bleeding in the Lungs (Both and Single Nostrils)||105|
|Blood present (Not from Lungs)||4|
|Choke (may not be race related – update needed)||1|
|Crack in hoof||2|
|Elevated Heart Rate||2|
|Fell / Slipped||6|
|Hit in Eye||1|
|Muscle, shin, back, hooves soreness||13|
|Puncture wound to foot||2|
|Roarer (Recurrent Laryngeal Neuropathy)||1|
|Slow to Recover / Poor Recovery Rate||208|
|Struck by Whip on Face||6|
|Thumps (Irregular Spasming of the Diaphragm)||6|
Pre-race Injuries / Health Issues
Before their races, 156 horses were reported as being injured or having health issues. This means that the horses arrived at the racecourse with visible issues or sustained an injury prior to competing. For a full breakdown, please click here (PDF).
Some horses were still raced despite these issues.
|Injury / Health Issue||Number of Horses|
|Blood in Nostril / Mouth||6|
|Fell / Slipped||4|
|Kicked by Another Horse||4|
|Swelling in Legs||6|
While racing, 1,528 horses were reported to have “bumped”, “made contact”, “brushed”, or “clipped/struck the heels” with/of another horse, the barriers, or running rail. Horses who collided with others were often noted to have “blundered”, sustained injuries (such as lameness), or were said to have performed “poorly” or became “unresponsive” to their rider. In many cases, horses made contact with another horse more than once in a single race.
Collisions are particularly dangerous as the horses are racing at approximately 70km per hour. Any interference can throw them off balance, placing them at risk of sustaining life-threatening injuries.
|Issue||Number of horses|
|Bumped / Made contact with||1,503|
|Clipped / struck heels||8|
“Horses Love to Run”
We often hear that horses love to run, and while this may be true, it does not mean they love to race. Competing and the lust for winning is part of human behaviour. Horses, on the other hand, are prey animals and developed their ability to run to evade predators or other threats. Racing them only plays on their fears.
Between July to December, 1,585 horses displayed signs of an unwillingness to race, either through their behaviour prior to or during racing. The following is a summary of the noted “poor” behaviours, taken from the steward’s reports. Horses who repeatedly show these behaviours are often ‘retired’. For a full summary, please click here (PDF).
|Behaviour||Number of horses|
|Broke through barrier||10|
|Bucked/Attempted to buck||29|
|Difficult to load||22|
|Difficult to ride / Unruly||42|
|Fractious (barrier / en route)||113|
|Leg up on running board||10|
|Missed the start||62|
|Poor racing manners||60|
|Raced flat footed / Stood flat fooded||56|
|Refused to leave barrier||2|
|Refused to load||35|
|Unresponsive to rider||120|
Prior to entering the racetrack, 40 horses also displayed signs of an unwillingness to race, highlighted in their distress and manners. For a more detailed list, click here (PDF).
|Behaviour||Number of Horses|
Racing NSW only permits 10 uses of the whip prior to the final 100m, after this, horses can be whipped an unlimited amount of time. Despite this rule, 1,577 jockeys were not penalised for whipping more than the allowed amount during their races. To view the report, click here (PDF). We question why Racing NSW is not penalising jockeys for not abiding by the rules.
How can I help?
Hundreds of horses are suffering in the name of “entertainment”, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If a person truly loved their horse, they would not risk their life for money. Additionally, horses who repeatedly fail to perform well leave the stable, highlighting that the owners are in it for profit. The only way to end the cruelty is to end the “sport”. You can help make this happen, by choosing to not support the industry. Take the pledge to never bet on an animals life, here.
You can also help by sharing this information with your friends and family.