Students' Research Circle    
» 2017
The conference
Veterinary Session
Veterinary Jury
Call for papers
Home » Archive » 2017

TDK conference 2017

Risk Factors at a Course and Race Level Associated with Fatal Limb Injuries in Thoroughbreds
McCann Claire Julia - year 6
University of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Anatomy and Histology
Supervisor: Dr. Balázs Gerics


The thoroughbred racing industry is one of ever increasing costs, euthanasia of a horse amounts to a significant loss of expenditure for owners and trainers, thus identifying factors which may contribute to fatal injuries is an area of major interest within the industry. The objective of this paper is to identify external causes of catastrophic limb injuries requiring euthanasia or resulting in death at the time of a race. External factors would include among others, going, field size, number of hurdles, and distance. Internal factors are factors relating to a horse as an individual such as age, sex, previous runs, and previous injury

Basic fatality numbers compiled by the Irish Turf Club from 2015 were used and further investigated for the purposes of this paper, 25 tracks and a total of 79 horses’ involved over 76 races and three different race types. The data compiled formed a case control study with a total of 470 races, 394 races with no euthanasia were used as a control against the 76 races with euthanasia. In races with 6 or less horses running risk of a fatality was 4.2% while with over 6 the risk was 15.2%. Euthanasia was also more likely in 20 furlong hurdle races but less common during 18 furlong hurdle races. Compared to a higher likelihood during 20 furlong steeple chases but less likely in the longer 22 furlong steeple races. Hurdle races showed a mean of 11 fences for the highest rate of euthanasia, with no euthanasia occurring at a lower mean number of fences. Steeple chases contradicted hurdle races with euthanasia occurring more often in races with 13 fences as opposed to races with a 14 fences. It was also deduced that races with two or more fallers had an increased euthanasia probability of 48% compared to races with less than two fallers which was 16%. Races running from the 4-6th number on the card showed the highest incidence of fatal injury in conjunction with races run on heavy or good to soft ground. Steeple chase and hurdle races had 128, 214 races and 31, 36 fatalities respectively in the study, an average increase of 2.34 furlongs and 3.56 fences between hurdle and steeple may account for the almost double fatality rate along with speed of race. Corners with more gradual curves and with a suitable width showed fewer fatalities along with straights that had an incline or decline which decreased the horses speed and rate of loading. These findings are considered along with previous case review literature with an aim to find possible areas which may be improved to decrease rate of injury and euthanasia within the racing industry. These may include modification to the track going, corners, width, or slope. Furthermore there may be a call for more careful consideration on the part of an owner or trainer to run a horse in a particular race, taking into account any association there may be between distance, size of the field and number of fences.

List of lectures