Outcry over cull of retired racehorses

  • Horselovers around the world unite to help save retired racehorses in China who face certain death

    Revelations that the Macau Jockey Club is culling up to 300 retired racehorses a year, have sent horse lovers around the world rushing to the rescue.

    The South China Morning Post, which broke the story that the Jockey Club was putting down several horses a week, says it has been inundated with letters and emails from around the world. Some shocked readers have offered to rehome the retired horses from themselves.

    The Club, which administers racing on the island off the coast of mainland China, has admitted to the cull, but has declined to say how many horses are being put down.

    A spokeswoman said that the Club registers around 1,050 horses, of which approximately 300 are retired each year.

    It is claimed that the racing authority, said to have made a profit of $3m in 2000, cannot afford to rehabilitate the horses.

    Death sentence

    The euthanasia, portrayed in graphic detail by the South China Morning Post, has outraged welfare organisations in Asia.

    Dr John Wedderburn of the Asia Animals Protection Network told Horse & Hound Online: “The regular landfill dumping of unprofitable horses shows a fundamental disrespect for life that should be unacceptable in any civilised society.

    “I sincerely hope that everyone in the horse racing industry will take note of the public outcry that has followed this exposure and will review their policies in order to prevent such horrific situations from occurring in the future.”

    However, a spokeswoman for the ILPH said that while the deaths were of concern, unless proper arrangements could be made to rehome the horses, the alternative, a working life as an agricultural animal, could give rise to further welfare concerns.

    “It could well be that this is the most responsible course of action,” she said.

    An arrangement in which retired horses were sent from the former Portuguese colony to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou ended last year when races there werestopped.

    The club said it was working on plans to send retired horses to Australia and New Zealand, but progress has been slow.

    In contrast to Macau, most of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s retired horses are either sent to its own local riding schools or farms overseas.

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