Horse Welfare Board trials enhanced process to review racecourse fatalities

19 September 2023

Everyone in British horseracing is committed to continually improving the sport’s equine safety record and taking all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of avoidable injuries and fatalities. Initially for the next six months, there will be a trial of an enhanced process for reviewing every equine fatality that occurs on the racecourse or within 48 hours of racing.
This process will be overseen by the Horse Welfare Board (HWB) and build on the current veterinary steps for reviewing racecourse injuries, to help improve understanding of why a fatality may have occurred. The enhanced process will see an expansion of the steps taken when a racecourse fatality occurs, bringing together existing work in one central and more consistent approach.
This will include more in-depth analysis of the incident and greater input from veterinarians, trainers, jockeys and racecourse staff. Through this approach the HWB hopes to better understand the causes and further develop our knowledge of the risk factors.
The data and information collected will be regularly reviewed and analysed during the pilot period and support ongoing efforts to develop evidence-based improvements to further minimise avoidable risk for all our participants.
The enhanced process
Following a racehorse fatality, the HWB will seek input from the trainer, jockey, BHA steward, BHA course inspector, clerk of the racecourse and veterinary surgeons via an online questionnaire. This will ask for feedback on areas such as the course, race conditions, the horse’s behaviour and some details about the horse’s race experience and medical history and may be followed up with a telephone call.
The aim is to build understanding, identify any potential trends, and help reduce the risk of injury. It is not about apportioning blame, but finding out more about why something might have happened and, where possible, learning from it.
To ensure that the information collected is as accurate as possible, feedback is provided within five days of the incident. Owners and stable staff will not be approached but may assist or provide information via the trainer.
Then, an independent team will review the information submitted and watch the race footage to determine what happened and see if anything can be learned.
This team is led by former BHA Steward, Simon Cowley, and includes experienced individuals such as racehorse veterinary surgeons, starters, course inspectors and jockeys.
A summary of data across the pilot will be shared with those who  who have contributed to the work, but at no point will any individual be identified in the report.
More information
If you have any questions or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact the HWB team on [email protected].

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