The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses have just published their fourth annual Racehorse Deathwatch report, which details the deaths on Australian racetracks over the racing year.
The racing year started on 1 August 2017 and concluded on 31 July 2018. In that time, 119 racehorses died on the track from racing related injuries, or soon after racing. This means that on average, a racehorse will die on an Australian racetrack every 3 days.
Of course, this also doesn’t account for the many thousands of racehorses who are slaughtered each year for pet food and human consumption when no longer profitable, or the others who are taken away from the course with their injuries, and their deaths not recorded in racing documents.
The data, which is collected from racing industry stewards reports, shows that of the 119 racehorses who were killed, most died of ‘catastrophic limb injuries’ – that is breaks and fractures of the fore legs. However, many horses also died of catastrophic hind limb injuries, as well as bleeds, cardiac issues and collapses.
For some horses, it was their first time on the track. And for others, they had been raced in 2-year-old races, before their bodies were fully developed, predisposing them to racing injuries.
While some of the horses were well known, such as Regal Monarch, who broke a leg on Melbourne Cup Day in 2017, most are unknown and unheard of. But they matter just as much.