Raising the standard of equine welfare to reduce injury and death in racing
Although a popular spectator sport, flat racing has faced considerable criticism owing to high levels of injury and death among race horses. In 2008, The Jockey Club of North America created the Equine Injury Database (EID) as a means to assess racetrack safety across the region. Professor Tim Parkin and Dr Euan Bennet from the School of Veterinary Medicine have worked closely with this organisation since the inception of the EID to identify novel horse-related and racetrack-related risk factors associated with catastrophic injuries leading to death. The Jockey Club of North America uses this information to recommend actions for improvement in equine welfare across the racing industry. Consequently, fatal injuries have decreased year-on-year, with the rate dropping by 24% between 2014 and 2019 (equivalent to approximately 135 fewer deaths each year). The 2019 fatality rate was the lowest recorded within the past decade. Approximately 35% of the reported drop in fatal injuries could be attributed to mitigations of risk factors identified through research conducted at the University of Glasgow.