For a one year period from 1 August 2017 to 31 July 2018, the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses has collected data from the stewards 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.

Key Findings

  • 119 horses killed on track for a number of reasons most commonly for catastrophic front limb injury (56)
  • On average one horse will die on Australian racetracks every 3 days
  • 16 horses collapsed and died
  • 11 horses died from cardiac causes
  • 4 horses died from bleeds
  • The state with the highest recorded deaths was NSW (52) followed by VIC and QLD (24)
  • 46 of the horses that were killed had been raced as a 2 year old
The total death toll for the one year period was 119 horses, equaling one dead horse every 3 days.


The 12 month period of data collection ends on the Horse’s Birthday (August 1) and is released on the first day of Spring (September 1). This is also known as the racing year.

Here’s why:

What is the horse’s birthday?

no-retirement-plan-for-horsesThe Horse’s Birthday is traditionally a day of celebration in Australian Racing; however with so many welfare issues and racehorse deaths each year, CPR believes it should be used as a day of reflection and consideration about how racing in Australia can be made safer for its equine athletes who are not given a choice to compete.

The first day of September marks the first day of Spring, and therefore the racing industry’s busiest period, Spring Racing Carnival. It’s important to step back at this time and consider what is happening to racehorses year-round, when racing is not as largely celebrated.

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 serves as a reminder for why the Australian Racing Industry must introduce welfare reform in order to survive as an ethical, sustainable industry in Australia. Download the full report here.

For previous Deathwatch reports…
Click here to download Deathwatch 2017
Click here to download Deathwatch 2016

In Memoriam – the 119 Fallen racehorses 1st August 2017 – 31st July 2018