An investigation found that at least 4,000 racehorses have been sent to the abattoir in Britain and Ireland since 2019.
Some of the sport’s most successful horses were amongst those being put down at one of the UK’s biggest abattoirs, where secret filming revealed that laws protecting animals from unnecessary suffering were being disregarded.
Three of them, including High Expectations, had been trained by disgraced trainer Gordon Elliot, the suspended three-time Grand National winner, at his stables in Ireland.
Gordon Elliot was banned from racing in Britain in March after he was photographed sitting on a dead horse, holding a mobile phone to his ear and making a victory sign.
Dene Stansall, horse racing consultant at Animal Aid, the campaign group which set up hidden cameras at the Drury and Sons abattoir in England for the BBC’s Panorama investigation said that they wanted to see what was occurring there and that when they looked at the footage, they were surprised at the sheer amount of young thoroughbreds.
The covert cameras were filming at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020 and captured dozens of ex-racehorses, mostly from Ireland, being killed.
Gordon Elliot told Panorama the three horses had retired from racing due to injury and were not under his care or ownership when they were destroyed, and he said that none of the animals were sent by him to the abattoir.
The investigation found rules meant to protect horses from a brutal death seemed to be disregarded at the abattoir.
Regulations say that every attempt should be made to ensure a rapid death and horses shouldn’t be killed in sight of each other.
But the footage revealed that on 91 occasions, horses were shot from yards away, and animals were shot together 26 times over four days of filming.
After watching the footage, equine expert Professor Daniel Mills said that it didn’t look like the horse was even stunned and that you could see it turning its head with control of its head and neck, and he said that taking a shot from a distance at a horse, to him, that was totally out of order, and that if you’re going to euthanise a horse, then you’ve got to get a bullet in the right place.
He said that if that’s representative of how they’re being killed, then they’ve got a really serious dilemma.
But let’s face it, the racing brotherhood doesn’t give a damn once the horses have outlived their use and have quit making big money for the owners, betting firms and other vested interests.
It’s the same as with Greyhound racing. Money is everything and animals mean nothing, and these are classy people in a dirty money-grabbing business, cloaked in a façade of respectability because of the connections with the great and good.
This is a brutal sport so that they can make money, then discard them if they don’t make them money, and they can’t even humanely discard them, and animals deserve so much better.
This is such a tragic end to such magnificent creatures, but the racing business overproduces, and there’s just not enough people to take all these unwanted, excess on so that they can retrain them as pleasure horses.
And there are many career-ending injuries for a racehorse. Injuries that most regular owners wouldn’t use their insurance to pay out to treat rather than euthanise. They might not be able to compete again, but they could have great lives as happy hackers once removed.
A horse with a broken leg can recover, although it would never race again. Sadly no one wants a racehorse as a pet. They’re a commodity and an expense if they can’t make money, and the owners won’t feed a useless mouth.