Ellerslie Racecourse (New Zealand) ran four “jumps” races Monday. One horse was killed in three of the four. Yes, that’s three dead animals in four races: 5-year-old Tu Meta Peta in the 1st, 6-year-old Musashi in the 3rd, 7-year-old Bahhton in the 4th.

In a New Zealand Herald article, Auckland Racing Club chief executive Cameron George reacted thus: “…statistically where do you draw the line? It’s not in anyone’s vision that we want to see horses that have fatal injuries, but we sit very well compared to all forms of sport.” A blatant lie, of course. But it gets worse: “We had 11 deaths on the roads [this weekend], does that mean everyone is going to stop driving? I wouldn’t think so.” As for the horses, George says “they enjoy it.” The “it” he refers to is being whip-forced to run – fast – and jump over man-made obstacles.

Mr. George, you are an obscenity.

Then this from jumps trainer John Wheeler, who was present Monday (Stuff): “People like me, who have had horses all their lives, love horses more than any animal rights person. We accept the risk that comes with it, and it hurts when it happens, but that’s part of it.” And finally, “Where you have livestock, you have dead stock.”

Mr. Wheeler, you, too, are an obscenity.

Video showing each of the fatal falls. Please share far and wide.

From the “Radnor Hunt Races” (Malvern, PA) website:

This year you can watch the racing excitement at Radnor Hunt in Malvern as the 86th Radnor Hunt Races are held on Saturday, May 21. Picture yourself standing in the middle of the beautiful Radnor Hunt countryside and having a party with friends and family watching horse racing so close to them that you can feel the ground shake as they go by. Many families have multiple generations enjoying what has become a springtime tradition in southeastern Pennsylvania.

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Come and enjoy the racing over the rolling hills of Radnor Hunt in Malvern. You will experience an exciting and beautiful step back in time and maybe start a spring tradition for your family and friends.

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And now, here is how the “event” unfolded (Equibase)…

In race 1, two of the horses were “pulled up, DNF.”

In race 2, one was “pulled up, DNF”; one “was difficult to control, pulled out of race.”

In race 4, one “hit top of a hurdle and fell, DNF.”

In race 5, one “fell at the final fence, DNF”; three others were “pulled up, DNF.”

In race 6, the last-place horse finished 56+ lengths back.

And – in race 3, 11-year-old Brother Sy – who had just been raced six days prior (also a steeplechase) – “fell fatally over a jump during the first mile.” Dead.

We animal advocates walk a very delicate (emotional) line. On the one side, soft: it’s a call for mercy, compassion – a campaign for hearts. Please, we say, let the animals be. But on the other, hard: it’s anger, contempt – a war against those seemingly without hearts. What you do, we say, is wicked and wrong; we demand that you stop. Problem is, this approach often just results in higher walls.

Still, when confronted with the “Radnor Hunt Races,” how can fury not rule the day? A product that enslaves, and abuses, and hurts, and, yes, sometimes kills animals sold as entertainment. Worse even, it’s entertainment packaged as pastoral: “rolling hills, beautiful countryside, a step back in time”; socially responsible: proceeds benefiting a conservancy – “open space, clean water”; fine: “gentlemen wear sport jackets (tie optional) and most ladies wear dresses,” “luncheon in the clubhouse”; festive: “tailgate parties”; and wholesome: “start a spring tradition for your family” – Boy Scout ushers.

It’s vile; it’s disgusting. And I seethe.

(With Brother Sy, there are now five confirmed kills on Preakness Day.)

Aintree Races

The Pennsylvania Hunt Cup is an annual steeplechase held in Unionville, Pennsylvania. The course is four miles of “fair hunting country” – to “approximate conditions found during a day of foxhunting” – and 22 fences “of stacked rails, board and post and rail.” Sunday’s 80th running unfolded thus:

Seven horses began race 1 – two finished (with the winner sealing the deal “under strong urging”). “WINGO STAR…fell at the second-last fence; ADIOS DIABLO…gained uphill to the thirteenth fence but was pulled up; HERE COMES BADNESS…pulled up before the twelfth fence; TENNESSEE BEND…bid for the lead near the twelfth fence, fell and was vanned off; NEW LEVEL was pulled up after the third fence…”

In the 2nd race, 5 started, 3 finished. “ALMARMOOQ was bumped hard and stumbled at the third fence…drew off under strong urging; SUPER SATURDAY…was far back until the eleventh fence…and fell at the second-last fence; DRIFT SOCIETY was bumped hard at the third fence and unseated his rider.”

And in The Cup itself, two horses hit the second-to-last fence.

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To those who patronize these events, we remind that “tradition” is no defense for the exploitation, maiming, and killing of intelligent, sensitive creatures. Please show mercy on these animals – find entertainment elsewhere.

photo credit: The Telegraph

7-year-old Makari, recently imported from Britain, is dead after breaking his neck in a steeplechase (race 1) this afternoon at Saratoga. Jack Doyle rode, Elizabeth Voss trained, and Merriebelle Stable owned. Curiously, the replay is missing from the NYRA website – broken necks, I suppose, are bad for business.

Also…

3-year-old Elena Strikes is dead after breaking a leg while “breezing” yesterday morning. She is the third Todd Pletcher-trained horse to be killed in Saratoga practice sessions (Lucky for You, Kamarius). For Saratoga ’14, this makes 11 dead athletes and counting:

4-year-old Lifeguard On Duty, July 24, training
3-year-old Double Gold, July 25, training
3-year-old Father Johns Pride, July 28, race 7
3-year-old Lavender Road, July 30, collapsed after being scratched
2-year-old Sir William Bruce, August 2, race 5
4-year-old Regretless, August 11, race 4
3-year-old M B and Tee, August 21, race 7
2-year-old Kamarius, August 23, training
2-year-old Ludicrous, August 23, race 4
3-year-old Elena Strikes, August 24, training
7-year-old Makari, August 25, race 1

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