Monday, July 19, 2021
Thousands of racehorses are being sent to slaughterhouses in Britain and Ireland, an investigation has found.
Some of the slaughtered animals were once owned and trained by some of the biggest names in racing.
Covert recording also showed how rules designed to protect horses from a cruel death appear to be regularly ignored at one of the UK’s biggest abattoirs.
One expert described the covert footage, from cameras installed by the campaign group Animal Aid, as evidence of clear breaches of the regulations.
Last February, a picture of top trainer Gordon Elliott sitting on a dead horse sent shockwaves through the world of racing and beyond.
Elliott, who has trained three winners of the Grand National, was roundly condemned, and suspended from the sport until 9 September this year.
A close crop of Gordon Elliott sitting on a dead horse.
The incident caused uproar, but it also highlighted the fate of many horses in the industry who die while racing, in training or in abattoirs.
Freedom of information requests revealed that 4,000 former racehorses were slaughtered in Britain and Ireland since the beginning of 2019. Most, but not all, were trained in Ireland.
Animal Aid, which has long campaigned for an end to horse racing, set up covert cameras at Drury and Sons, an abattoir in England which has a licence to kill horses.
“When we looked at the footage we were absolutely astounded at the sheer volume of young thoroughbreds,” said Animal Aid spokesman Dene Stansall.
The footage was recorded over four days at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020.
It captured dozens of former racehorses being slaughtered, the majority of them from Ireland and the majority young.
Some of the horses shot in the abattoir had previous illustrious racing careers, winning thousands of pounds.
Three of them had been trained by Gordon Elliott at his state-of-the-art stables in County Meath, Ireland.
He told Panorama none of the three animals were sent to the abattoir by him.
The horses had retired from racing due to injury, he said, and were not under his care when they were killed.
Elliott said two of the horses were sent to a horse dealer “to be rehomed if possible, and if not, to be humanely euthanised” in line with the regulations.
He said he gave the third horse to another rider as requested by its owner.
And he said the first time he learned of their fate was when Panorama contacted him.
Elliott said he has ensured the appropriate and proper treatment and welfare of animals that have been in his possession and has rehomed a substantial number of them.