Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Plumpton described as 'death trap' for horses
A racecourse where six horses died in just nine days of racing has been described as an "equine death trap".
Protesters from the Animal Aid charity gathered outside Plumpton Racecourse, near Lewes, yesterday and said the course should be "ashamed" of its record.
Six horses have died at the course in nine days of racing since March this year, part of a total toll of 118 across the country, according the charity's website Racehorse Deathwatch.
However, Plumpton's chief executive Patrick Davis said significant investment had been made to minimise risks to horses and described the protesters as "extremists".
One of the campaigners at Plumpton was dressed in dark, gothic robes as a "spectre of death" to represent the dead horses.
Five of the horses which died at Plumpton were destroyed on-course because of injuries. Another, named Mr President, collapsed and died at the starting line.
Meanwhile in the same period one horse died at Brighton racecourse and four at Fontwell, near Arundel. None have died at Goodwood, in Chichester.
Dene Stansall, Animal Aid's horse racing consultant, said: "All of the deaths could have been prevented and each individual horseís death is a sad indictment of a negligent and ignorant industry.
"Importantly, our Racehorse Deathwatch website shows the brutality of racing horses where money and entertainment come before their lives.
"It is no longer acceptable that huge numbers of horses should die on British racecourses. Clearly the industry cannot regulate itself in the interests of the horses it uses, and it is time for change.
"Plumpton should be ashamed of its record, which saw six horses killed in just nine days of racing. We urge the people of Sussex to boycott this equine death trap."
Plumpton Racecourse has become one of the most successful smaller jump racecourses in the country, staging sixteen National Hunt meetings from September to May.
Yesterday's protest took place as crowds gathered at the course for the Betfair Christmas Raceday.
Hitting back at the protesters, Mr Davis said: "These people are extremists and to say that horses die because of cruelty within the industry is absolute rubbish.
"Everyone in racing loves horses and no one is more affected when they are injured and need to be put down. Some of these deaths are natural such as heart attacks.
"Plumpton, along with other courses, has ploughed a lot of money into research to minimise the risks, but the reality is that racing can be a dangerous sport for horses and jockeys alike."
Animal Aid also claims that thousands of unprofitable horses are also killed every year.
In September, Animal Aid filmed undercover at an abattoir in Taunton, Somerset. The footage showed a succession of apparently fit and healthy horses, including racing thoroughbreds, being shot in the head with a rifle and then butchered for human consumption.