he British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has called for a UK abattoir to change its practices after a BBC Panorama investigation found evidence of race horses experiencing cruel deaths there.

The BHA met welfare experts earlier to discuss the issue “as a matter of urgency”.

Covert recording showed rules are regularly being ignored at the abattoir, one of the UK’s biggest.

The abattoir told the BBC it did not accept any form of animal abuse.

Freedom of Information requests revealed that 4,000 former racehorses have been slaughtered in Britain and Ireland since the beginning of 2019.

The vast majority were trained in Ireland, and some were once owned and trained by some of the biggest names in racing.

BHA’s welfare director James Given said: “We’re all clear that the transporting of horses from Ireland to be euthanised in Britain must stop. So too should those practices in the abattoir featured in the programme, which appeared to cause distress to horses.”

The covert footage, recorded by the anti-horse-racing campaign group Animal Aid, showed horses being killed in front of each other and being shot from a distance at one of the few abattoirs in the UK licensed to slaughter horses, Drury and Sons.

Veterinary experts said this broke guidelines, causing extra pain and trauma for the horses involved.

BBC Panorama also revealed that some horses were transported hundreds of miles before arriving at the abattoir.

The BHA said breaching these guidelines was unacceptable and a new welfare strategy, published in 2020, specifically sought to address the care of horses after their racing days were over.

Mr Given said: “I’ve heard former trainer colleagues speaking out about their duty of care to horses that once raced with them. Each story told makes a difference and shows the wider public that British racing is compassionate and responsible.”

The programme also included claims that attempts were being made to get contaminated horse meat into the human food chain by falsifying paperwork and tampering with horse microchips.

Last modified: 20/07/2021

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