The League Against Cruel Sports has issued a statement following the death of Copper Gone West today during the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The seven-year-old mare fell on day three of the Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse.
The house is trained by Tim Vaughan and was ridden by Alan Johns. Sire Du Berlais won the race after Copper Gone West pulled up during the race.
Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “This death shows starkly why the League has repeatedly called for tighter safety measures and the formation of an independent regulatory body with horse welfare at its heart.
“A total of 68 horses have lost their lives at the Festival since 2000 which is simply unacceptable.”
Figures released by the British horseracing Authority (BHA) show that in 2019 alone, 173 horses lost their lives during competitive races.
Mr Luffingham added: “One death is too many. National Hunt Racing is a hugely popular sport with the public, but this comes at a cost. We’ve all seen the hastily erected screens around the fallen animals, and experienced the heartbreak that goes with it.
“With an average of nearly 200 horses dying on racetracks across Britain every year it’s clear that racing needs to give horse welfare the priority.”
Elisa Allen, director of PETA, said: “When you consider that three horses died at the Cheltenham Festival last year, the death of Copper Gone West today wasn’t only tragic – it was predictable.
“No one would be raising a glass or placing bets if cats or dogs were the ones being whipped, being forced to jump dangerous obstacles, shattering their ankles, breaking their necks, and being shot in the head right on the track – and horses deserve no less sympathy.
“This is a stain on the UK’s reputation as a nation that cares about animals, and PETA is calling for an immediate end to this year’s festival to prevent any more senseless cruelty to animals.”
Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall: “Despite the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) review of Cheltenham in 2018 – due to an appalling record of deaths – their recommendations have proved futile in preventing horses dying at the Prestbury Park course.
“They have failed to limit the excessive number of runners in many races at the Festival and this is a cause of death. Whilst Animal Aid does not support horse racing, a positive step for race horses’ safety would be to replace the BHA with an independent horse welfare body.”