A retrospective case-control study to investigate horse and jockey level risk factors associated with horse falls in Irish Point-to-Point races

Laura J. Smith, Gillian Tabor, Jane Williams

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Horse racing as a high-risk sport can pose a significant risk to equine welfare. There have been limited epidemiological reviews of fall risk specific to point-to-point racing. This study aimed to identify horse and jockey level risk factors associated with horse falls and compare these to published findings for Hurdle and Steeplechase racing. The study used a retrospective matched case-control design. Relevant variables were identified, and information was collated for all races in the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 seasons. Cases and controls were matched with a 1:3 ratio. Controls (n=2,547) were selected at random from all horses that completed in the same race (n=849). Horse and jockey level variables were analysed through univariable analysis to inform multivariable model building. A final matched case-control multivariable logistic regression model was refined, using fall/no fall as the dependent variable, through a backward stepwise process. Horse age was associated with an increased risk of horse falls. For every 1 unit increase in age there was a 1.2 times increased fall risk. The number of races ran within 12 months was associated with a decreased risk of falling. The jockeys previous seasons percentage wins was associated with the risk of horse falls. Jockeys who had 0-4% wins and 5-9% wins had an increase in risk compared to those who had over 20% wins/runs. The jockeys previous seasons percentage of falls (F) or unseating of the rider (UR) was associated with the risk of horse falls with jockeys who had over 20% F/UR having a 50% increased chance of falling compared to those who had 0-4% F/UR. Retrospective analysis of horse and jockey falls has exposed risk factors that have been previously identified in hurdle and steeplechase racing. Identification of risk factors is essential when considering future research and interventions aimed at improving horse and jockey safety.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComparative Exercise Physiology
Early online date17 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Dec 2019


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