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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • racehorse;
  • fatality;
  • risk factor;
  • jump race;
  • hurdle;
  • steeplechase

Summary

Reasons for performing study: The risk of fatality is greater in jump than in flat racing in Victoria, Australia. This is the first study to identify risk factors specific to jump starts in Victoria.

Objective: To identify risk factors for fatality of Thoroughbred racehorses in jump starts on all racecourses in Victoria, Australia between 1989 and 2004.

Methods: Fatalities comprised all horses that died during or immediately after a jump (hurdle or steeplechase) race or official jump trial and all horses that were subjected to euthanasia within 24 h of an event in which an injury was sustained. The retrospective study involved 191 case starts and 2324 control starts. Univariable and multivariable backward stepwise logistic regression was used to identify risk factors for fatality at any one start. A multiple level model was used with racecourse included as a random effect.

Results: In the final multivariable model, the duration of the racing career of the horse, the number of flat, hurdle and steeple starts accumulated in the 60 days prior to the case or control start, the number of flat and jump starts accumulated over the racing career, if the horse had had a start between 1 and 14 days prior to the case or control start, the type of jump race (hurdle or steeple), the calendar year of the start and the location of the racecourse were associated with fatality.

Conclusions: The findings highlight the need to investigate further the differences between hurdle and steeplechase events and the adverse effect of prolonged prior flat racing careers on the risk of fatality in jump starts.

Potential relevance: This is the first study to examine risk factors for fatality in jump starts in Victoria. The results should shape the development of interventions to reduce the risk in jump starts in the future.