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How Many Horses Die In Racing UK?

Horse racing has been a popular sport in the United Kingdom for centuries and it is estimated that the UK is home to around 400,000 thoroughbred horses. Unfortunately, the sport is not without its risks, and every year there are reports of horses dying in racing in the UK. This article will examine the issue of how many horses die in racing UK and the efforts being made to address the problem.

What is the Scale of the Problem?

The exact number of horses that die in racing in the UK is difficult to ascertain, as there is no single source of data that accurately records the deaths. However, research conducted by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) in 2014 reported that an average of 3 horses die per 1,000 runs over jumps, and 1.45 horses per 1,000 runs on the flat. This means that approximately 600 horses die in racing in the UK each year.

What Factors Contribute to Horse Deaths in Racing?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to horse deaths in racing in the UK. These include:

  • Age: Young horses, particularly those under the age of four, are more at risk of injury or death due to their inexperience and immaturity.
  • Fitness: Horses that are not fit enough to race, or those that have been over-trained, are more prone to injury.
  • Track conditions: Poor track surfaces can contribute to injuries, as can changes in weather conditions.
  • Jockey error: Mistakes made by jockeys can lead to accidents and injuries.
  • Medical conditions: Horses can suffer from pre-existing medical conditions that can make them more vulnerable to injury or death.

What Measures are Being Taken to Reduce Horse Deaths in Racing?

The BHA is the governing body for horse racing in the UK and is responsible for ensuring the sport is conducted safely. The BHA has implemented a number of measures in order to reduce horse deaths in racing, including:

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Rider Safety

The BHA has introduced a range of measures to ensure the safety of riders, including improved education and training for jockeys, as well as the introduction of mandatory safety helmets.

Horse Welfare

The BHA has implemented a number of welfare initiatives in order to protect horses in racing, such as the Racehorse Welfare and Safety Rules, which set out minimum standards for all horse racing in the UK. The BHA also runs an Equine Welfare and Integrity Unit, which monitors the health, welfare and welfare of horses in racing.

Track Safety

The BHA has introduced a number of measures to ensure track safety, including the use of ground-penetrating radar to detect any potential hazards and the installation of additional safety fences. The BHA also regularly inspects tracks to ensure they meet safety standards.

Are These Measures Working?

It is difficult to determine conclusively whether the measures being taken by the BHA are having a positive effect on the number of horses dying in racing in the UK. However, research conducted by the BHA in 2019 found that the number of horse deaths in racing had decreased by 33% since 2014. This would suggest that the measures being taken are having a positive impact.


It is clear that the number of horses dying in racing in the UK is still a cause for concern. However, the measures being taken by the BHA, such as improved rider safety, welfare initiatives and track safety, are helping to reduce the number of deaths and are making racing in the UK safer for both horses and riders.


British Horseracing Authority. (2014). Racing & Wagering: Assessing the Risk. Retrieved from https://www.britishhorseracing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/BHA-Racing-Wagering-Assessing-the-Risk.pdf

British Horseracing Authority. (2019). Equine Welfare and Integrity Unit: The 2019 Report. Retrieved from https://www.britishhorseracing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/EWIU-2019-Report.pdf