Patrick J Battuello

Archive for the ‘Steeplechase Racing’ Category

5 Killed Friday at Clonmel in Ireland

In Dead Athletes, Steeplechase Racing on June 15, 2014 at 3:32 pm

There is bad, then there is really bad. Friday at Clonmel Racecourse in Ireland, five, yes five, horses were killed steeplechasing. According to Irish Racing, here’s how it unfolded:

“Ballintotty Boy was the first casualty in the opener when the ground was described as good. Milan Elite fell at the fifth in the fifth and he sadly failed to rise, with the ground changing to good to firm after that contest. The third fatality came in the seventh with Oscar Pearl having to be put down after she pulled up injured before four out. Two more came to grief in the bumper with newcomers Lisgreen Lad and Areyouforreal both picking up fatal injuries.”

“Two more came to grief.”

In response comes this excrement from “Clerk of the Course” Lorcan Wyer:

“Obviously we were facing into 22 degree heat [72 F] and a very warm dry evening and there is always an element of risk with summer jumping. The track as it opened up during the day obviously dried and that may have been a factor. Obviously our sympathies go out to all the connections. We at Clonmel, and at all times and at all tracks, do our best to get everyone home safe both horse and rider. Unfortunately we have had five fatalities this evening and we will look back and assess what happened.”

What happened, Mr. Wyer, is your wicked institution.

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As the Horses Fell, the Patrons Groaned

In Steeplechase Racing on April 29, 2014 at 7:57 am

On racing’s egregious meter, steeplechasing is practically unsurpassed. These are the kinds of races you watch with an expectation of horses falling – and breaking. This past Saturday saw the 118th running of the Maryland Hunt Cup, a 4-mile race – at times, run at 30 mph – featuring 22 5-foot-high solid timber fences. The final tally: 15 started, 4 finished; of the 11 who did not, 4 fell, 4 “pulled-up,” and 3 lost their riders. The Baltimore Sun reported thus: “The crowd, which covered a hillside overlooking the course, groaned in unison when the first horse fell at the third fence.” When a “sporting event” regularly elicits groans, perhaps it’s time for a bit of introspection.

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4 Die at Cheltenham Festival 2014

In Dead Athletes, Steeplechase Racing on March 18, 2014 at 8:20 am

While this page holds that all horseracing is wrong, there is perhaps no more vile form than the steeplechase (“jumps”), the kind of animal competition that comes with an expectation of bodies falling, breaking, and dying. And so it was last week at the Cheltenham Festival 2014 in England. Four days, four kills (one was in a flat race under National Hunt rules): Our Conor (broken back), day 1; Akdam (fractured leg) and Stack The Deck (fractured knee), day 2; Raya Star (fractured spine), day 4.

The meet’s leading jockey, Ruby Walsh, said this after Our Conor’s death (The Telegraph, 3/12/14): “Horses are horses. You can replace a horse.” Walsh, in a bit of poetic justice, would break his arm later in the Festival when his horse, Abbyssial, took this fall…

photo credit: The Telegraph

photo credit: The Telegraph

photo credit: The Telegraph

photo credit: The Telegraph

And this from the RSPCA’s “equine consultant,” David Muir: “If a horse has broken its leg, we have to look at the reasons why and see what we learn from it.” If the RSPCA still has more to “learn” from racing kills, then it should cease calling itself an animal protective organization. Take a stand – work to end horseracing.

And finally, the British Horseracing Association: “Despite the best efforts of all involved, as with participation in any sport involving speed and athleticism, there remains an inherent risk of injury.” More fatuous words were never spoken.

Horse Banned for Refusing to Race

In Steeplechase Racing on January 17, 2014 at 7:34 am

From the UK comes word that 10-year-old Thoroughbred Mad Moose (below) has been “banned” by the British Horseracing Authority for, as Horse & Hound (1/13/14) puts it, “being reluctant and refusing to race one too many times.” In his last race in December, he started but “[pulled] himself up” before the first hurdle, the seventh time in 14 months that he has refused to participate. Horse & Hound adds, “The horse even got Nigel in trouble with the BHA last November, after the trainer chased after him waving a belt to try and get him to start at Cheltenham.”

mad moose jumps the last on his way to winning at cheltenham 19-4-12

While British media is having a bit of fun with this – calling him “quirky,” “naughty,” “headstrong,” and “serial” – I see something different. For me, this is a tale of quiet yet resolute rebellion, an exploited animal saying, in the only way he can, ‘no more.’ No more will I be whipped into doing your bidding. No more will I risk my limbs for your game. No more. Odds are, Mad Moose will soon be dead anyway, for there can be little value in an “old” (comparable to a twentysomething human) gelding who won’t run. But for now, this is one track event worthy of applause. And for that, Mad Moose, we thank you.

Crashing Neck-First

In Steeplechase Racing on October 14, 2013 at 8:24 am

The following is a sequence of jump-racing pictures from Ireland. Although the Daily Mail reports both jockey and horse as doing fine, I can think of no more damning visual of the steeplechase than this…

Zane Grey falls

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