Questions arise over Cheltenham deaths

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Questions need to be answered over the deaths of five horses during the first two days of racing at England’s Cheltenham Festival, the charity World Horse Welfare says.

Chief executive Roly Owers said World Horse Welfare, which is an adviser to the British Horseracing Authority on horse welfare, would be monitoring the inquiries made into the deaths.

“The deaths at Cheltenham are a terrible tragedy, not least for the sport, the owner, the jockey and the stable of these horses,” Owers said.

 “There is no doubt that questions need to be asked and that is why it is so important for World Horse Welfare and the RSPCA to work with the racing authorities constructively to see what if any lessons can be learnt.

“We will be monitoring the investigations into what happened, and look at the findings and the circumstances around each fatality – including the state of the ground.

“This isn’t just about Cheltenham – there are many thousands of races each year and with drought conditions in much of the country, we believe it could be beneficial to review again what stage the going is considered safe. Firmer ground means quicker races, and so increased risk.”

Owers continued: “Clearly, racing places greater risks on horses, and there is a heavy burden of responsibility on all those involved directly and indirectly in the sport to do everything possible to minimise these risks.”

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