Three horses have died at the Cheltenham Festival in England, drawing condemnation from the animal rights group, Animal Aid.
The group has labelled the course the most lethal in Britain, saying in the leadup to the latest festival that 48 horses had died racing there since 2007.
The first fatality was Our Conor, who was euthanised after falling on Monday at the third hurdle in the Stan James Champion Hurdle.
The next fatality was Akdam, who was brought down in Wednesday’s Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle and suffered a broken front leg.
Later in the day, Stack The Deck pulled up lame during the seventh race, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper – a flat race. Stack The Deck was transported to the stables for further assessment by the vets and X-rays.
Subsequently, after review, the decision was taken to humanely put the horse down as he had seriously fractured his left-fore knee.
The three deaths so far this festival follow on from 11 fatalities in the past five years, including five in 2012.
British Horseracing Authority spokesman Robin Mounsey said: “Everyone in the sport of racing regrets the loss of a horse, especially those who are close to the horses in question. The welfare of horses and riders is of paramount importance.
“The highest standards of horse welfare are demanded of all jockeys, trainers and racecourses and the sport employs over 6000 people to provide constant care and attention for the 14,000 horses in training, providing them with a level of care and a quality of life that is virtually unsurpassed by any other domesticated animal.
“Despite the best efforts of all involved, as with participation in any sport involving speed and athleticism, there remains an inherent risk of injury.
“British racing is open and transparent about the risks involved to both horse and rider. Over the last 15 years, the equine fatality rate in British racing has fallen by one-third, from 0.3% to 0.2% of runners.”
However, Animal Aid’s horseracing consultant, Dene Stansall, talked of unconvincing excuses and the the “usual claim” that it was an unfortunate outcome that couldn’t have been avoided.