I am concerned about race horse welfare, especially given the significant number of horses that die as a result of racing each year. Indeed, Animal Aid’s ‘Race Horse Death Watch’ has recorded 185 race horse deaths last year and 196 in 2018.
Another welfare concern is the continued use of whips in horse racing. Despite rules stipulating that jockeys are only allowed to hit their horses seven times in a flat race and eight times in a jump race, many jockeys ignore these rules, without consequence.
This is why I am disappointed with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), which has not taken bold action to look after the welfare of race horses.
Indeed, last October I wrote to Zac Goldsmith, the Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, and raised this issue with him.
I received a reply from a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) official during the election campaign, which I am now able to share. You can see a copy of the reply below:
The reply informs me that our concerns have been noted and will be taken into consideration during future policy development.
I am pleased to read that the Horse Welfare Board is currently developing a comprehensive equine welfare strategy, covering the whole life of the racehorse, which aims to make the sport safer and improve horse welfare.
I look forward to reading this strategy when it is published and holding the Government to account on this issue.