Animal rights fury as third horse dies in Dustin Hoffman TV drama Luck

Racehorse is put to death after falling at track during making of second series of HBO show

The sport of kings has rarely looked so sumptuous as in Dustin Hoffman's tele- vision series Luck, which earned at least a portion of its critical acclaim for its portrayal of thoroughbreds barrelling around the sun-kissed racetracks of southern California.

Off camera though, things aren't so pretty. Cable channel HBO, which is currently filming the drama's second series, has abruptly suspended the use of horses on its set following the sudden death of yet another one of its equine performers.

A horse was put to death on Tuesday after it reared, fell over backwards, and hit its head. The incident, which occurred on location at Santa Anita racetrack north of Los Angeles, represented the third fatal accident involving horses in Luck's short history.

Animal rights activists are predictably outraged by the development, and have called for police to launch an investigation into possible breaches of welfare laws. They blamed the "outrageous" deaths on "sloppy oversights" by the makers of the show, created by the Hollywood director, Michael Mann.

HBO, for its part, can barely afford more negative publicity for the expensive show, which recently debuted in the UK on Sky. Though heavily marketed, and despite receiving positive reviews, Luck has underperformed commercially, attracting a mere 625,000 viewers in the US.

In a statement, the network said it was "deeply saddened" by the horse's death. It promised "full co-operation" with an investigation by the American Humane Association [AHA]. "Recent assertions of lax attitudes or negligence could not be further from the truth," it read. "We will not be filming horses until AHA completes its inquiry."

This week's fatal accident was witnessed by Gary Beck, a vet. "The horse was on her way back to the stall when she reared, flipped over backwards, and struck her head on the ground," he said, in a statement. Since the injury was too serious to respond to treatment, euthanasia the only appropriate move, he added.

The California Horse Racing Board, which has allowed HBO to use Santa Anita during its off-season, said that a full post mortem will now be carried out on the creature. "Unfortunately, we see several of these injuries in the stable area every year," said its equine medical director, Rick Arthur. "They are more common than people realise."

That is unlikely to quieten Hollywood's noisy animal welfare lobby. Even before this week's events, they were investigating Luck's treatment of its equine stars, alleging that two other horses who suffered fatal accidents during the filming of the show's first series should never have been allowed on set.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Teaching Assistant to work with Autistic students

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: KS2 Teacher needed in Peterborough a...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain