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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Review of Cheltenham fatalities to focus on six main considerations

Le Prezien wins last month's Grand Annual, in which there were three fatalities
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The BHA's review of the equine fatalities and long-term injuries at the Cheltenham Festival will focus on six main categories, the regulator revealed on Thursday, and is expected to be completed during the summer to allow time for the recommendations to be implemented.

The main categories are the courses; the obstacles; participant factors; starts, safety factors and race tempo; programming and race conditions; and veterinary aspects.

The review will be led by BHA director of integrity and regulatory operations Brant Dunshea, and be coordinated by its head of racecourse operations Emma Marley. 

The review will also incorporate relevant internal and external experts to assist the process, including recognised welfare organisations like the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare.

Aims and objectives of the review

  • Adopt an evidence-based approach to further British racing’s commitment to improving equine welfare
  • To further reduce risks to horses racing at future Cheltenham Festivals and more broadly Cheltenham racecourse
  • Demonstrate openness and transparency by publishing a review which seeks to continuously improve
  • Utilise appropriate and relevant expertise to inform the review process

Dunshea said: “As the sport’s independent regulator the BHA has shown throughout its history it is committed to taking measured, scientific, evidence-based steps to improve welfare standards.

“This has been shown in recent years by, for example, the comprehensive review of the Grand National published in 2011, and the ongoing improvements to racecourses which have contributed to the sport’s fatality rate falling by a third in the last 30 years. 

“It is vital this review is carried out in a reasoned, measured manner and that we fully consider the unintended consequences of any recommendations.

“It has been extremely positive to note the manner in which Cheltenham and others in the sport have welcomed this review, which is reflective of the fact that everyone in British racing puts the welfare of its participants as the number one priority.”

The BHA board will discuss the scope and timing of its planned examination of whether the existing penalties for misuse of the whip, and how they apply, constitute an adequate deterrent to jockeys before announcing details of the review.

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It has been extremely positive to note the manner in which Cheltenham and others in the sport have welcomed this review

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