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BHA figures reveal fatal injuries on the track marginally up last year

The number of fatalities in British racing marginally increased in 2021
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The percentage of runners in Britain who suffered fatal injuries marginally increased last year, according to the latest BHA figures.

A total of 216 horses died after sustaining injuries on the track, which represents 0.24 per cent of the 91,287 runners in 2021. The data includes runners on the Flat and over jumps, and showed an increase on 2020, when there were 144 fatalities at 0.19 per cent.

In 2019, the figure was 0.2 per cent with 179 fatalities, which was down from 0.23 per cent the previous year. The number of fatalities on racecourses has fallen by roughly a third in the last 20 years.

Last year's total has resulted in a slight increase on the five-year rolling average figure from a low of 0.2 per cent to 0.21 per cent.

The fatal injury rate on the Flat was 0.1 per cent, the same as last year, while over jumps the rate increased to the 2019 level of 0.49 per cent, up from 0.37 per cent in 2020 and 0.44 per cent in 2018. The faller rate over jumps was 2.34 per cent, the lowest on record.

In the first five months of 2021, the injury rate was greater than the five-year average but dropped in the summer, which the BHA said coincided with the new trot-ups for all horses at jumps meetings. The regulator also noted the figures included all horses who died as a result of their injuries within 48 hours of a race for the first time.

BHA director of equine health and welfare James Given said: "Despite the significant strides that have been made around our safety record in the last 25 years, we'll never, as a sport, be satisfied with injury rates which fluctuate year-on-year around a low base.

"We're determined to drive constant improvement and to make reasoned, well-researched and evidence-based changes which further reduce risk in the sport. These changes will be based on the more robust data which is being gathered as part of a focus on traceability and data, a feature of the Horse Welfare Strategy.

"The cross-industry Horse Welfare Board will continue its focus on safety in 2022. We were pleased to see the significant difference that our pre-race trot-ups made for horses competing in summer jumping, reducing the risk of a welfare incident for horses competing at these fixtures by 28 per cent.

"We're grateful for the assistance of trainers in this process. The feedback has been excellent and we'll continue to speak to the industry about the ongoing roll-out of this initiative.

“We're also optimistic about the impact the new fracture support kits and redesigned obstacles will have when it comes to numbers of fallers and recovery from injury. While recognising that risk can never be removed entirely, we'll do all we can to minimise avoidable risk in the sport."

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We're determined to drive constant improvement and to make reasoned, well-researched and evidence-based changes which further reduce risk in the sport
E.W. Terms