Cliff’s Dream fell in a jumps race in 2016 at the Warrnambool Racetrack in Victoria. CPR investigators recently reviewed the fall and found his subsequent treatment to be of great concern. We reached out to Racing Victoria and also to a former racing industry veterinarian for answers.
Watch the video below….
Below are both parties statements in full.
Racing Victoria Statement: 8 December 2020
- The horse was standing on 3 legs and had its left front limb held off the ground. This is normal practice for a horse with an injured limb to prevent further injury to the limb, any additional injuries or making the pre-existing injury worse.
- This horse was particularly uncooperative – which is unusual in most situations when dealing with an injured horse but makes the above more difficult.
- The horse was not forced to the ground at any stage during the video.
- The horse never had any pressure exerted on its forelimbs during the video.
- The video has been captured before any sedation and pain relief administered to Cliff’s Dream had time to take effect.
General Manager – Equine Welfare
Dr Peter Kerkenezov BM statement: 2 January 2021
After viewing an email reply to Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses
from Ms Jennifer Hughes, General Manager – Animal Welfare, Racing
Victoria, dated 8th December 2020, and the video record as per the link:
https://youtu.be/ZtYWZZHa0os, I make the following observations:
- The horse in the video is believed to be ‘Cliff’s Dream’. The horse has
acquired a left forelimb injury and is being handled by several men at
the racetrack. It is unknown what drugs have been administered to
induce chemical restraint to this horse however the horse does seem to
be in a state of calm, enough to go down on the front legs and with
the head close or touching the ground.
- The horse appears heavily sedated and being forced to the ground on
three occasions by male attendants. Despite being sedated the horse
rears twice and this is not considered an unusual response for any
conscious horse in this situation when being forced to do something he
doesn’t want to do. The attendants appear to be trying to rotate the
horse’s head to the left in-order to roll the horse on his right side. It is not
deemed normal practice to attempt this course of action in a sedated,
- At least one handler appears to be applying his body weight to the
head and neck of ‘Cliff’s Dream’ before a green screen is pulled
across to block the video recorder’s view.
To conclude, if this horse had acquired a catastrophic injury requiring
euthanasia then what was the purpose to manhandle this horse to the
ground in the manner exhibited in this video recording? In this type of setting, horses requiring euthanasia are normally catheterised and administered the necessary drugs, at the correct dose rate, by intravenous injection while standing. An injected horse should smoothly drop safely to the ground, unconscious without pain and suffering. Death quickly follows. Any deviation from this normal practice, as demonstrated in this video, requires explanation.
If it was deemed the drugs administered had not taken effect then why was the horse being prematurely handled in the stressful manner observed?
Dr Peter Kerkenezov BM
Equine Veterinary Surgeon
02nd January 2021
An article published at the time also reveals the industry edited the race replay footage to hide the fall and death of Cliff’s Dream. Something we have found to be an increasingly common occurrence as scutiny and oppostition towards horse racing increases.