Three horses have died on Australian racetracks in just one weekend.
At a race in Tamworth, a horse named Son of a Dun collapsed on the course, causing another four horses and riders behind him to fall. One other horse died, and four of the injured jockeys were hospitalised.
Why did Son of a Dun collapse? It’s believed the 3-year-old gelding suffered a heart attack mid race.
Within the same 24 hours, a mare named Payroll was injured and died at Flemington, the home of the Melbourne Cup.
These three are just the latest in a long line of horses who have lost their lives on Australia’s racetracks. According to the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses’ annual Deathwatch Report, 119 horses died on tracks during the last racing year.
The most common causes of death are catastrophic limb breaks and foreleg fractures. And many horses, like Son of a Dun, go into cardiac arrest and simply collapse after being pushed beyond their limits.
Many horses who should be recuperating following injuries are heavily medicated to keep them racing. Trainers often use a regimen of anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, sedatives, hormones, diuretics, muscle relaxants, and other substances to mask injuries and enhance performance, making horses vulnerable to breakdown.
On average, one horse dies on an Australian racetrack every three days. But this weekend, three horses died in just 24 hours.
People who care about horses are turning their backs on this cruel form of entertainment. The abuse will end only when we all recognise there’s no such thing as a “harmless flutter” when it comes to funding the exploitative horse-racing industry.