Cheltenham Festival defends safety record after horse deaths – BBC


Organisers of the Cheltenham Festival have defended its safety record saying that the welfare of horses is its priority.
The event has come under fire following the deaths of four horses.
The League Against Cruel Sports said the animals were being "sacrificed for entertainment" while the RSPCA said it was "extremely concerned".
Ian Renton, regional director at The Jockey Club, said it works "tirelessly to do everything we can for horses".
On Tuesday, Shallwehaveonemore was the festival's first fatality when it had to be put down after falling in the opening race of the four-day event.
Two more horses, Mindsmadeup and Born Patriot, were euthanized after falling in races on Thursday.
Then on Friday, Ginto had to be put down after suffering an injury in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.
Since 2000, a total of 73 horses have lost their lives as a result of racing at the Cheltenham Festival, according to the campaign group Animal Aid.
Over the last five festivals, 16 horses have died, while there were 11 deaths in a single week in 2006. There were seven deaths in 2016 and 2018.
Speaking to BBC Radio Gloucestershire, Mr Renton said: "All our team here work absolutely tirelessly to do everything we can for horses and human welfare and that is absolutely paramount in everything we think.
"We got criticised for watering [the course] on Tuesday night, the reason for that is to try to ensure we produce absolutely the safest ground, and we will continue to do that.
"We will continue to take criticism for things like that because the welfare of horses is what we put at the top of our list."
Following the four deaths, the League Against Cruel Sports has called for a new independent regulatory body and the implementation of "much tighter" safety measures.
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