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

Laura J. Smith, Gillian Tabor, Jane Williams

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    Horseracing as a high-risk sport can pose a significant risk to equine welfare. To date no epidemiological reviews of fall risk in horseracing have investigated the risks specific to point-to-point (PTP) racing. This study aimed to identify the main race level risk factors associated with horse falls in Irish PTP and to compare these to published findings for hurdle and steeplechase racing. The study used a retrospective case-control design. Relevant variables were identified and information was collated for all PTP races in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons. Race-level variables were analysed through univariable analysis to inform multivariable model building. A final multivariable logistic regression model was refined, using fall/no fall as the dependent variable, through a backward stepwise process with variables retained if likelihood ratio test P-values were <0.05. During the study period 1,358 PTP races were recorded, 727 races (54%) included at least one horse fall. The fall frequency noted during the current study was 88/1000 starts. Race category impacted the odds of a fall occurring with all categories of maiden races having increased odds of falls compared to open races. Maiden races for 6 year olds and 6 and 7 year olds had the greatest chance of falling with 6.9 times increased odds. The chance of a race containing a fall increased 38% for each additional runner and was reduced by 25% for every horse that pulled up during the race. Using a larger data set could enable further sub-models to be developed. In the current study some of the variables had a low number of cases and/or controls which limited the analysis. Retrospective analysis of fall risk exposed some risk factors that have been previously identified in hurdle and steeplechase racing. The variables identified could inform future research and interventions aimed at improving horse and jockey safety whilst racing
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)127-134
    Number of pages8
    JournalComparative Exercise Physiology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


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