Jockey Laura Cheshire has taken to social media with a devastating reaction after seeing a horse she once rode in the ABC’s explosive report on the slaughter of retires racehorses.
A two-year ABC investigation has revealed allegations hundreds of Australian racehorses are being sent to the slaughterhouse.
The ABC says Racing Australia's official data claims around 34 horses every year end up at slaughterhouses, a figure amounting to less than one per cent of retiring racehorses.
‘BROKEN-HEARTED’: Racing industry figures respond to 'appalling' allegations
However, the national broadcaster says a two-year investigation, culminating in a report that aired on Thursday's edition of 7.30, shows the number is much higher.
Elio Celotto from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses told the ABC that about 4000 racehorses had been killed in one abattoir alone.
"The racing industry has hidden behind bogus studies they commissioned and data collected from a compulsory retirement form claiming that less than 0.5 per cent of racehorses are sent to slaughter," Celotto said.
"They have now been proven wrong and must own up to the fact that they have a serious welfare problem."
Jockey’s horror after spotting former horse
One of the horses featured in the report is allegedly War Ends, who can be seen being repeatedly abused by an abattoir worker.
The worker calls the horse a “f***ing stupid c***” before bolting it and kicking it in the head after it had died.
Cheshire, who had previously ridden War Ends, said she felt like she failed after seeing the horse passed “on and on and on”.
“I have failed a racehorse. My heart is so broken,” she wrote on Facebook.
“War ends I tried to do the best thing for you after you were passed on and on and on. And tonight I watched you get a captive bolt to the head. My heart feels dead.”
Cheshire told of her attempts to ensure War Ends ended up in a good home after retirement, before calling for action to be taken.
“For anyone who watched the ABC footage tonight on the abhorrent treatment of racehorses in the dogger yards, I urge you to put complaints in writing to the racing Qld integrity team, on the QRIC website, at reportsomething. Currently there is nothing in place in Qld to protect horses after their career has ended. Nsw is TRYING!,” she wrote.
“Every racing board across the nation needs to clean up this mess we are creating. The over breeding needs to stop!!
“This is my industry and tonight I am so ashamed. I only ever got into racing for the love of horses. And tonight I watched a horse I rode every day for years get a bolt to his head. And so many others get treated in the most disgusting way when all they did was try to please.
“It hurts!! This is hurting a lot of people! Things NEED to change. The racing bodies need to fix this. And soon. If we are going to breed these horses, there needs to be more in place for their welfare after racing.
“There need to be higher standards if horses are going to continue to end up in the knackeries. We can only do our best at rehoming them. For the ones who fall through the cracks.. I just feel despair. I can’t even..deal with this. Things need to change.”
The CPR said up to 220 horses are being killed weekly at a Queensland abattoir and on average 56 per cent are racehorses.
"With another abattoir that also kills horses and another 33 knackeries, we estimate the real number to be more than 10,000 (a year)," Mr Celotto said in a statement.
Animal welfare and behaviour scientist Professor Paul McGreevy told the ABC there was no way the racing industry could defend the behaviour.
"This is a clear breach of everything the industry has told us," he said.
The investigation also aired accusations of multiple instances of animal cruelty at the slaughterhouses racehorses are being sent to.
The ABC says despite racing's peak body implementing rules requiring the registration and tracking of horses from their birth to their retirement, racehorses are still being killed in slaughterhouses on a weekly basis
Racing NSW CEO Peter V'landys tod the ABC he was not aware of any NSW racehorses being sent to slaughterhouses.
However, he said if it is occurring the state body would "put the full force of the law" against offenders.
I am broken hearted at the ABC report. If we don’t make real changes the court of public opinion will bury racing.
— Lee Freedman (@freedman_lee) October 17, 2019
Racehorse breeders call for transparency
Thoroughbred Breeders Australia says those governing the industry must act along with participants to reinforce the post-racing programs which include rehoming retired horses.
"I am appalled by the vision broadcast," TBA chief executive Tom Reilly said.
"All horses, whether thoroughbreds or not, deserve to be treated humanely and with dignity.
"The full force of the law should be brought down on anybody in the footage shown mistreating those horses.
"The thoroughbred industry needs a full and frank discussion about what happens to horses when they leave the industry.
"And while there is good work being done to rehome horses, we have to look at how participants and regulators can and must do better.
"We also need to have confidence in the numbers the industry publishes about what happens to animals when they leave racing."
In October 2017, Racing NSW introduced a rule to track horses from cradle to grave and to ban sending horses to slaughter.
A percentage of prize money from racing goes to horse welfare.
Racing NSW has bought two properties in the state for retraining of racehorses for other pursuits including equestrian activities.