Celebrities including Ricky Gervais and Sara Pascoe call for urgent action over Cheltenham horse deaths
12 celebrities have signed an open letter calling for urgent action over horse deaths at Cheltenham. Six horses died at this year’s Festival, including four on the final day of racing. The letter was co-ordinated by Animal Aid, one of the UK’s largest animal rights organisations. It was signed by Marc Abraham, Sam Carter, Sarah-Jane Crawford, Peter Egan, Ricky Gervais, Jasmine Harman, Dr Christian Jessen, Emma Milne, Sara Pascoe, Wendy Turner Webster, Dan Richardson and Carol Royle.
Two horses died on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival – Mossback and Report To Base. Both were just six years old. On the final day of racing, Sandsend was killed after a horrific injury in which his foreleg shattered. Dresden, North Hill Harvey and Some Plan all lost their lives in the final race, which was one of the ugliest in the history of the Cheltenham Festival.
Around 200 horses die each year due to racing in Great Britain. Animal Aid believes that racing’s regulator, the British Horseracing Authority, is not fit for purpose, since it has failed to stop the tide of deaths. The campaign group is calling for an independent body to be established, which has race horse welfare as its only interest, and which would take meaningful action to stop horses from dying. Almost 30,000 people have signed a petition calling for this measure – the largest number of those signing are from the Cheltenham constituency, highlighting that not everyone from the town is supportive of horse racing.