To date epidemiological reviews of fall risk in horse racing have applied a general approach to analysis integrating different grades, type of race and various racetracks. This study aimed to investigate if increasing specificity in analysis (one course and type of race) would expose the same risk factors for horse falls. The purpose of the study was to apply the principles of epidemiology to predict factors that increase the risk of a horse falling in steeplechase races at Cheltenham racecourse. Relevant factors related to horse falls were identified and collated from the Racing Post website for all steeplechase races run at Cheltenham between 1990 and 2010. Subsequent uni- and multivariable single-level and mixed effects logistic regression models were developed using ‘fall’ or ‘no fall’ as the dependent variables. The chance of a steeplechase race containing a minimum of one horse fall at Cheltenham racecourse is increased by 22% for each additional runner in the field and reduced by 86% for every horse that is pulled up during the race. Going and speed were not significantly associated with horse falls. Retrospective analysis of fall risk for a specific race type and course has exposed different risk factors than those previously found in generalised studies. Analysing specific racetracks has the potential to more effectively underpin the development and assessment of racecourse strategies to reduce fall risk to promote equine welfare.
- fall risk