Call to close course after three horses die

AN animal rights group is calling for a racecourse to be closed down after three horses had to be destroyed after falling.

Animal Aid has labelled Sedgefield Racecourse “Britain’s most lethal” following Monday’s deaths, along with Cheltenham Racecourse.

The charity has recorded 33 equine fatalities at each course since March 2007.

During Monday’s 4.30pm handicap chase at Sedgefield, nine-year-old gelding Best Horse and 10-year-old Troodos Jet fell at the fifth fence within seconds of each other and broke their necks.

Half-an-hour later, in the handicap hurdle, a horse called Provos fell and was fatally injured.

The horses’ deaths have sparked further criticism of the course that had also been named Britain’s most lethal back in March 2008.

New irrigation systems were installed at landing zones after the 2008 incidents to make the course safer, but there has now been six deaths at the course in six weeks.

Dene Stansall, a horse racing consultant for Animal Aid, said: “Sedgefield’s record of race horse deaths is second to none. There should be no second chances with this racecourse.

“There is only one logical course of action to stop further horse deaths and that is to shut the place down.’

Mr Stansall speculated that the falls were caused by the ground being too hard and cited RSPCA recommendations that races should not be held on the course when the going is good to firm.

Charlie Moore, clerk of the course, said: “In 2008 we did a full review following concerns expressed by Animal Aid and we have, since then, not encountered any particular problems with equine fatalities.

“For some unexplained reason we have just had what I can only describe as a bit of a blip.

“We are, however, desperately sorry for not only the horses, but everyone who was involved with them, and we will continue to monitor the situation.”