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Racing body publishes review of Cheltenham Festival
"...this project has become a springboard for wider research to better identify risk factors in Jump racing."
Review aims to improve safety after horse deaths at 2018 event 

No single factor was definitively responsible for the deaths of six horses at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, according to a review by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

The racing body launched the review following the festival in March. It investigated all races run at the festival between 2007 and 2018, involving 5,451 runners and 308 fallers, in a bid to improve safety and welfare.

Non-track factors, such as veterinary, participant and race condition factors were found to be of equal or potentially greater significance than track-related factors. Taking input from the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare, the 67-page report makes 17 recommendations to address these issues, including enhanced veterinary checks and targeted alterations to race conditions.

Brant Dunshea, chief regulatory officer for the BHA, commented: “The report itself has found that non-track factors are likely to be contributing to risk at Cheltenham, and the same may be true across all of Jump racing.

“For this reason this project has become a springboard for wider research to better identify risk factors in Jump racing, above and beyond the continuous programme of innovation and improvement which has made the sport significantly safer in the last 20 years.”

Headline recommendations from the review include:
  • pre-race veterinary examinations should be increased, to include all runners in all races at the festival
  • reduce maximum field size in all two mile Chases from 24 to 20
  • remove all rider weight-claiming allowances in Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
  • BHA will engage with participants to further identify factors that contribute to risk
  • the industry must support a major research project to develop a predictive model for identifying risk factors for all jump racing, including horse history and performance, rider and training factors.
BHA said it will continue to monitor faller and injury rates at Cheltenham and other racecourses. If any risks are identified, the racing body will work with the racecourse in question to consider any action that can be taken to further improve safety rates.

Nick Rust, chief executive of the BHA, added: “British Racing must work together to reduce the risk of injuries occurring at The Festival and indeed Jump Racing as a whole. The recommendations of this review are designed to achieve this.

“I commend this review for the rigour and thoroughness of its approach. I also support the fact that its recommendations are intended to further raise the bar when it comes to welfare not only at Cheltenham, but across all of Jump racing.”

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”