It doesn’t matter how many times you lose a horse, it never gets any easier.
Harbour Court (pictured) went to Higham (24 January) because the ground was beautiful and it’s a good build-up to Cheltenham. The men’s open race was going brilliantly — he’d never travelled so well on such a quick track and was in front at the fifth last. But on landing, he suffered a hindleg injury.
My son, jockey Joe Hill, swiftly pulled him up and within seconds, the vet diagnosed the injury as fatal and he was put down.
These events are handled with the upmost efficiency. At every meeting there are at least three screens to shield the horses from spectators, one horse ambulance and a knacker’s truck. The on-course vets follow the horses round the track so that they can be on-site within moments.
It’s the vet’s prerogative whether to put the horse down. Owners agree to this on signing the declaration.
The screens are placed around the horse and he is put to sleep using a gun with a silencer or lethal injection. He is then taken away, usually to the kennels.
The Point-to-Point Authority and British Horseracing Authority have worked hard to make horse welfare paramount and protect the public from distressing sights, and it showed in this incident. They should be applauded.
Despite the devastating event, the yard has had six winners already and we are reminded to value every success, big or small.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 11 February 2016