By Darragh MacIntyre
Thousands of racehorses are being sent to slaughterhouses successful Britain and Ireland, a BBC Panorama probe has found.
Some of the slaughtered animals were erstwhile owned and trained by immoderate of the biggest names successful racing.
Covert signaling besides showed however rules designed to support horses from a cruel decease look to beryllium regularly ignored astatine 1 of the UK's biggest abattoirs.
The abattoir told the BBC it did not judge immoderate signifier of carnal abuse.
One adept described the covert footage, from cameras installed by the run radical Animal Aid, arsenic grounds of wide breaches of the regulations.
Last February, a representation of apical trainer Gordon Elliott sitting connected a dormant equine sent shockwaves done the satellite of racing and beyond.
Elliott, who has trained 3 winners of the Grand National, was roundly condemned, and suspended from the athletics until 9 September this year.
The incidental caused uproar, but it besides highlighted the destiny of galore horses successful the manufacture who dice portion racing, successful grooming oregon successful abattoirs.
Freedom of accusation requests revealed that 4,000 erstwhile racehorses were slaughtered successful Britain and Ireland since the opening of 2019. Most, but not all, were trained successful Ireland.
Animal Aid, which has agelong campaigned for an extremity to equine racing, acceptable up covert cameras astatine Drury and Sons, an abattoir successful England which has a licence to termination horses.
"When we looked astatine the footage we were perfectly astounded astatine the sheer measurement of young thoroughbreds," said Animal Aid spokesperson Dene Stansall.
The footage was recorded implicit 4 days astatine the extremity of 2019 and the commencement of 2020.
It captured dozens of erstwhile racehorses being slaughtered, the bulk of them from Ireland and the bulk young.
Some of the horses changeable successful the abattoir had erstwhile illustrious racing careers, winning thousands of pounds.
Three of them had been trained by Gordon Elliott astatine his state-of-the-art stables successful County Meath, Ireland.
He told Panorama nary of the 3 animals were sent to the abattoir by him.
The horses had retired from racing owed to injury, helium said, and were not nether his attraction erstwhile they were killed.
Elliott said 2 of the horses were sent to a equine trader "to beryllium rehomed if possible, and if not, to beryllium humanely euthanised" successful enactment with the regulations.
He said helium gave the 3rd equine to different rider arsenic requested by its owner.
And helium said the archetypal clip helium learned of their destiny was erstwhile Panorama contacted him.
Elliott said helium has ensured the due and due attraction and payment of animals that person been successful his possession and has rehomed a important fig of them.
Watch Panorama: The Dark Side of Horse Racing, connected BBC One connected Monday astatine 20:30 BST, oregon aboriginal connected BBC iPlayer.
Animal Aid's cameras besides captured what look to beryllium breaches of rules designed to support animals from unnecessary cruelty.
The regulations accidental horses should not beryllium killed successful show of each other.
The footage recorded horses being changeable unneurotic 26 times implicit the 4 days of filming.
Prof Daniel Mills, a veterinary behavioural specializer from the University of Lincoln, who has seen the footage, said: "A gunshot going disconnected is going to beryllium startling, seeing different equine abruptly drop, these are each going to beryllium precise distressing for a equine successful this situation."
That is not the lone breach of the rules.
The regulations besides accidental each effort should beryllium made to guarantee a accelerated death. But the footage showed that sometimes the decease was acold from instant.
On 91 occasions the cameras recorded a slaughterman shooting horses, not adjacent up, but from a distance.
Reviewing the footage of 1 specified killing, Prof Mills said: "It doesn't look similar the equine is adjacent stunned. You tin spot it's turning its head. It seems to person got immoderate power really implicit its caput and neck.
"Taking a changeable from a region astatine a horse, to me, that's wholly retired of order. If you're going to euthanise a horse, you've got to get a slug successful the close place.
"If that's typical of however they're being killed, past we've got a truly superior problem."
The abattoir, Drury and Sons, told Panorama that they "take large attraction to support precocious payment conditions and bash not judge immoderate signifier of carnal abuse".
They said each horses are "humanely destroyed'' and that connected occasions wherever issues bash occur, they instrumentality ''swift enactment to reappraisal and rectify" them.
Some of the racehorses killed portion Animal Aid cameras were filming had been transported from Ireland, travelling much than 350 miles (560km) by roadworthy and sea.
Some animals were said to beryllium carrying career-ending injuries.
Veterinary adept Dr Hannah Donavan, who reviewed the footage, said: "[Travelling] 350 miles perchance carrying an wounded is not a humane process. This is unnecessary suffering."
Dr Donavan said: "The bottommost enactment is horses, if they are to beryllium euthanised, could and should beryllium euthanised astatine home. Simple arsenic that."
Prof Mills said the racing authorities' ain guidelines intelligibly acceptable retired what should hap to horses erstwhile their racing vocation ends.
"The industry's ain regulations urge that you should marque proviso for each the animals that you're liable for," helium said.
Horse Racing Ireland, the governing assemblage for racing successful Ireland, said it placed large value connected the payment of the radical and horses successful the industry.
The British Horseracing Authority said it has demonstrated "a wide committedness to improving already precocious standards of attraction for racehorses… before, during and aft racing".
It said it would "consider cautiously immoderate issues raised" by the Panorama programme.
Dene Stansall of Animal Aid said: "I tin recognize wherefore radical are attracted to racing, due to the fact that I was attracted to it myself.
"[But] due to the fact that of the mediocre payment record, the fig of horses dying and being killed successful slaughterhouses, I tin nary longer enactment that - and I deliberation a batch of the nationalist would consciousness the aforesaid way."
Panorama: The Dark Side of Horse Racing, is connected BBC One connected Monday astatine 20:30 BST, oregon ticker aboriginal connected BBC iPlayer.