A full review is being undertaken by racing authorities following the deaths of three horses in jumps races at Auckland’s Ellerslie Racecourse on Monday.
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) has announced the review in conjunction with the Auckland Racing Club, the Racing Integrity Unit and New Zealand Jumps Inc.
Tu Meta Peta, Musashi and Bahhton were euthanised on the track after each suffering fractures in falls.
Tu Meta Peta, a five-year-old chestnut gelding, jumped the first fence badly in a 2760-metre race and dislodged his rider. He was euthanised after falling and fracturing his right shoulder.
Musashi, a six-year-old black gelding, fell at the final jump in 4150m steeplechase. He was found to have fractured his left foreleg.
Bahhton, a seven-year-old chestnut gelding, misjudged a fence in a 3350m race and was euthanised after falling and fracturing his right shoulder.
“Any horse fatality is a tragedy,” NZTR’s general manager for racing, Matthew Hall, said.
“However, to have three incidents in one day, as we did at Ellerslie on Monday, was most unusual.
“We are looking at all safety aspects in jumping races, both at Ellerslie and on a national basis.
“Just two horses had been fatally injured in jumping races at Ellerslie in the previous six years and the deaths on Monday were the first in a jumping race there since August 2013.”
Hall said a considerable amount of work had been done to minimise potential injuries in jumps races, including an annual audit of every jumps venue. The statistics would indicate that the approach was working, he said.
“Three horses, from 881 runners (0.34 percent), suffered fatal injuries in jumping races in New Zealand last year and two horses, from 907 runners, (0.22 percent) were fatally injured in 2014.
“There is always an element of risk, to both horse and rider, in all equestrian sports but NZTR is committed to doing everything we can to mitigate those risks,” Hall said.
Hall said NZTR set up a project with Waikato University in 2015 to build a detailed equine injury database on raceday incidents. This includes more detailed incident forms, completed by on-course vets, aimed at identifying the frequency, type and outcome of racing injuries.
NZTR also invested more than $1 million in racing and training infrastructure improvements in the past financial year to maximise equine safety and welfare, and worked closely with the RNZSPCA and the New Zealand Equine Health Association.
He said NZTR also supported horse welfare studies through the New Zealand Equine Research Foundation and the Massey University Partnership for Excellence.