Animal rights group criticises Sedgefield Racecourse death rate

An animal rights group claims too many horses are still dying at a North East racecourse a year after its safety record was criticised.

Animal Aid said in the last year, seven horses had died or had to be put down at the Sedgefield track - there were six the previous year.

But horse trainer Ferdy Murphy said conditions were improving.

Bosses at the racecourse refused to comment, but the British Horseracing Authority said the course was "safe".

Mr Murphy, who carries out regular safety reviews at the course, said: "We have reviews all the time and any improvements that can be made are being made.

"We have moderated a lot of the fences to improve safety."

Dene Stansall, spokesman for Animal Aid, said the racecourse still had a long way to go to improve safety and reduce the number of horse deaths at the venue.

'Ground softer'

He said: "We have a duty of care to these animals and they have to be looked after properly. The racecourse needs to stop racing while it gets to grips with the problem.

"Further improvements need to be made at the ground."

The British Horseracing Authority said: "We set stringent safety and welfare criteria which all racecourses must meet to have their licences renewed on a yearly basis.

"Sedgefield Racecourse meets all these criteria, the association takes its responsibility of looking after horses and riders seriously."

Last year course clerk Major Charlie Moore said improvements included moving the positioning of fences and improving water retention to make the ground softer.

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