Jockey Club respond to retired racehorses

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The Jockey Club and the BHB yesterday moved swiftly to restore the image of racing which received a battering in the documentary "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" which was screened by ITV on Tuesday.

The documentary suggested that the world of racing was largely unconcerned with the fate of ex-racehorses and provided much grisly footage to hammer home their message.

However, David Pipe, the Jockey Club's spokesman, countered the programme- makers stance claiming that there was no evidence to suggest that the problem is as widespread as suggested. "High on emotion and low on fact," Pipe said.

"The only racehorses they specifically mentioned were Hallo Dandy and the Queen's Green Kilt. Everyone knew about Hallo Dandy and the Queen's horse was sold for 18,000gns to a racing stable - and there is nothing wrong with that.

"The programme was full of innuendo. Pictures of racing stables cut to gypsy sales and left the public to draw their own inferences.

"It was out to create disgust - focussing excessively on people eating horsemeat - and, all in all, did not adopt a rational approach to the problem."

Pipe accepted that the public would demand an answer to the allegations and outlined proposals to establish a working party. "In the light of public concern, we will have a working group involving both the International League for the Protection of Horses and the Racehorse Owners Association.

"The group will look at the extent of abuse, neglect and ill-treatment of ex-racehorses and basically establish whether there is a case to answer."