If it is not every punter’s abiding reminiscence of remaining year’s Cheltenham Festival, it’s far honestly the most instant. Twenty- horses went to publish for the Grand Annual Chase, the very last race of the meeting, and within the space of 4-and-a-half of mins, 3 suffered deadly accidents while falling.

In the preceding 27 races over the 4 days, there have been 3 fatal accidents – from a complete of 425 runners. While the death of six horses at some point of races at one Festival is not unheard of – there had been nine fatalities due to accidents at the 2006 assembly – the loss of three in a single race became the most depressing and dispiriting postscript to a Cheltenham that everybody could don’t forget. As a result, there will be apprehension mingling with the excitement as National Hunt racing reconvenes inside the West Country following week for the most important 4 days of the season.

Two many years’ worth of statistics on faller and fatality fees on the Festival advise last year’s Grand Annual turned into a horrible freak of a race but questions nevertheless nag. Is racing at the Festival as safe as it may be for horses and riders? Or may there be something inherent inside the meeting’s significance and depth that means exceptional policies practice on protection and threat?

There is genuinely sufficient variance within the fee of fatal accidents on the Festival while compared with the same parent for different conferences at Cheltenham to suggest the solution to the second question is yes.

Data at the charge at which runners suffered fatal injuries – the quantity of fatalities divided by using the wide variety of starters – is available for the last 20 complete seasons, now not including 2000-2001 whilst the Festival was deserted following a virulent disease of foot-and-mouth sickness. In the ultimate 19 seasons, 82 horses had been killed whilst racing at Cheltenham’s non-Festival conferences from sixteen,303 starters, a fatality rate of just about exactly zero.5%. The danger any individual starter would go through fatal harm while racing, in other words, changed into approximately 2 hundred-1. In the 19 Festivals over the comparable period, there had been eight,513 runners, and 63 deaths, a fatality rate of zero. Seventy-four %. This indicates that during March, the risk a horse could be killed at Cheltenham turned into more like a hundred thirty-1.

The last yr, for instance, there were nine fatalities from 1,333 runners throughout all Cheltenham races – consisting of the six deaths at the Festival. Or, to place it any other way, just 3 deaths from 886 non-Festival runners.

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It is truthful to mention the hazard any individual runner could be killed when racing at Cheltenham is extremely low, whether or not it’s far competing on the Festival or no longer. But it is also honest to say, the usage of the equation set of figures, that the risk a horse will be killed is nearly 50% higher at the Festival than it is at certainly one of Cheltenham’s different conferences.

There is an extensive range of viable factors that would, either for my part or in combination, underlie this disparity, many of which have been taken into consideration in an extensive assessment of last year’s Festival via the British Horseracing Authority, which published its findings in December.

The assessment made 17 tips, many of so one can be carried out next week. For the first time, each runner on the Festival – predicted to be around 450 in all – might be inspected by using a vet earlier than it competes. If the vet isn’t happy, the pony is sound, and in shape to race, it will likely be scratched. The protection limit for 2-mile chases – which include the Grand Annual – has been cut to twenty from 24, and there might be extra fans in the pull-up location to quiet down the runners post-race.

Human elements have also been taken into consideration. An obligatory each day briefing has been introduced for all jockeys “to encompass extended awareness on their responsibilities toward equine welfare.” A similar formal presentation changed into added before the Grand National in 2013, on account that while there has been a sharp upward thrust inside the wide variety of horses being pulled up while their threat has gone.

“For this 12 months’ Cheltenham Festival we’ve got labored with the racecourse and our industry to make sure our horses and participants are higher organized than ever earlier than,” Robin Mounsey, the BHA’s head of media, stated on Friday. “This consists of introducing an individual device of checks for our horses, great engagement with trainers and jockeys, and a few adjustments to the rules of access for sure races.

“The review also advocated a few initiatives which will have an extended-term advantage, particularly the creation of a detailed predictive danger version. One of the findings of the review became that non-tune elements – along with the veterinary, player, and race situation factors – could probably be of same, or probably greater, importance than track-related elements. The predictive chance model will assist us to understand some of the in the back of-the-scenes troubles which might be contributing to accelerated hazard on the Festival.”

There will, of the route, constantly be the danger, but small, a horse may be injured or killed while racing, at Cheltenham or everywhere else. Efforts will maintain, each in this week’s Festival and afterward, to lessen the hazard anyplace feasibly, while fans and specialists alike will head for Gloucestershire subsequent week hoping the 28 races at this Festival are much less traumatic than the last.

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