Complaints that standards of welfare in British horseracing aren’t high enough are without real merit
The horseracing world has been enveloped in debate in the wake of The Daily Mirror printing images of Wigmore Hall being shot after breaking his leg. Now, with news that the Queen’s horse Estimate has been stripped of its Gold Cup finish after testing positive for morphine, yet more commentary has followed about the way in which racing is run.
Whilst the Estimate decision was a formality and caused by the horse consuming feed contaminated with poppy seeds that had supplied by the feed company Dodson & Horrell, how racing is run is once again being questioned in some quarters.
Naturally, the images published by The Mirror upset many and Wigmore Hall’s trainer, Newmarket-based Michael Hall, himself commented:
“It’s a very insensitive thing to publish… [Worse than that] was that the journalist referred to Wigmore Hall as ‘it’ and that sums up his lack of understanding of the situation”.
“The love we have for horses, people who work with them day in and day out, no one ever calls a horse ‘it’… I just don’t see the plus side of printing [these images], it is very distressing for us. After losing one of our favourites we then have to go through this. From my point of view the journalist just shows his lack of understanding of horses throughout the piece”.
Equally, as has been pointed out by the British Horseracing Authority, the equine fatality rate in British racing has fallen from just over 0.3% of runners to just over 0.2% of runners in the last decade. Those involved in horseracing care about the welfare of animals and though any fatality is regrettable, it does not mean that this sport is badly governed.
As The Spectator added, shooting Wigmore Hall was “the kindest thing to do”. A decision to put the horse down was made instantly to minimise suffering and that Animal Aid and others attack this decision is just ridiculous. That such quarters also bring up the case of Estimate as a “welfare fail” is equally ludicrous and again shows such people to have a lack of understanding of this sport.
The Mirror and Animal Aid should apologise for their actions and the public should be made aware that racing, in the main, is well run and regulated.
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