Southwell gets go-ahead to race after horse deaths study concludes

Southwell Racecourse has been given the go-ahead to run jump fixtures again after an investigation into equine fatalities concluded.

Meetings were suspended at the start of September following the deaths of six horses in a month at the Nottinghamshire track.

Changes have been made on the back of a study by the British Horseracing Authority’s veterinary team, racecourse department and course inspectors alongside the venue's owners Arena Racing Company.

These include making the slope of the plain steeplechase fences more pronounced, to improve the shape that horses make over the jumps and relocating the first obstacle in the home straight.

The return fixture has been scheduled for November 13.

The BHA's chief regulatory officer Brant Dunshea said: "The BHA and ARC have worked together to comprehensively review the incidents at Southwell between July and early September, while racing was temporarily suspended at the course as a precaution.

“Having completed analysis of the racing in that period, all those involved agreed there are a small number of changes that can be made which will have a positive impact.

“We appreciate the input from stakeholders and will continue the work already underway to make changes to some of the physical factors at the course, with the aim of making changes to the race programme at the appropriate point in the future.

“The safety of our participants is the top priority for everyone involved in British racing and the sport is constantly taking steps to assess potential risk factors and make improvements where necessary.

"This process of ongoing review, assessment and improvement has resulted in the fatality, injury and faller rates in jump racing reducing by around one third in the last 20 years.”

The review found that there were not issues with the going or the track – and the majority of incidents occurred at fences either side of the bottom bend, with measures suggested to address them.

"Feedback from stakeholders was that some modifications to all of the fences, above and beyond those recently undertaken at the track would be of assistance to both horse and rider," the report said.

A schooling morning to trial the modifications took place on November 4.

Trainer Charlie Longsdon was in attendance and he said he was "very happy" with how the horses jumped.

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