For a one year period from 1 August 2020 to 31 July 2021, the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses has collected data from official race day reports from every state and territory in Australia, compiling a detailed report of the horses who have died in racing and the reasons why – something that is not made available to the public each year by the industry itself.
At least 149 horses were killed on Australian racetracks in the last racing year. This equates to one horse suffering a painful, life-ending injury in the name of gambling profits every 2.5 days.
It is important to note that this and previous years death tolls are almost entirely made up of the deaths we learn of from official race day reports. Countless others are taken away from the racetrack and killed behind the scenes when it is clear they cannot (or were chosen not to) be saved, indicating that although high and devastating, our findings are still grossly understated. This is why we are demanding greater industry transparency. Sign the petition directed at all state and territory Minsters for Racing here.
- At least 149 horses were killed on track for a number of reasons, most commonly for catastrophic front limb injury (41)
- On average at least one horse will die on Australian racetracks every 2.5 days
- At least six horses died from cardiac causes
- At least five horses died from bleeds
- The state with the highest recorded deaths was NSW (63) followed by VIC (32) and QLD (29)
- Fifty-three of the horses that were reported to have been killed had been raced as two-year-olds
- Nine horses were only two years old when they died on track
- Seven horses are still listed as ‘active’ on the Racing Australia website at the time of writing, even though some have been dead for almost a year
- A GIPA by AJP NSW found trackwork deaths are almost as frequent as raceday deaths - these are rarely reported and therefore highlight how grossly understated our death toll actually is
- All states failed on several occassions to upload race replays where a horse died. Victoria was the worst culprit, editing or failing to upload replays on at least ten occassions
The first month of Spring marks the beginning of the racing industry’s busiest period, the Spring Racing Carnival. It’s important to use this annual spotlight on horse racing to highlight the issues that exist year-round.
Whilst the racing industry are spending big bucks on advertisments aimed at luring back Australia's trust in the Melbourne Cup and spruiking new Spring Carnival safety measures, the thousands of other horses forced onto racetracks across the rest of the year are being forgotten. Those are the horses who make up the vast majority of deaths on track and nothing is being done to protect them, simply because they are not Melbourne Cup runners who attract the media spotlight.
There is another Anthony Van Dyck at least every 2.5 days.
We believe that the racing of underdeveloped horses in two year old racing (which often predisposes them to further injury if they do not break down at that age), the relentless beatings of over-tired horses with the whip and the placement of hurdles in front of horses in a group, at a fast pace in jumps racing are all welfare issues which contribute to a high number of deaths and injuries in racing.
This Deathwatch Report serves as an educational tool to the Australian public on the reality of racing horses for profits and reminds them that horse racing kills. Download the full report here.
For previous Deathwatch reports...
Click here to download Deathwatch 2020
Click here to download Deathwatch 2019
Click here to download Deathwatch 2018
Click here to download Deathwatch 2017
Click here to download Deathwatch 2016