Monday, February 23, 2009

Alex Brown speaks out against horse-slaughter

The Sentinel-Record/RICHARD RASMUSSEN Exercise rider Alex Brown heads back to trainer Steve Asmussen's barn after galloping a horse at Oaklawn Park on Wednesday. Brown is dedicated to finding a cure for laminitis, a circulatory foot disorder.

HOT SPRINGS - Alex Brown likes to ride horses and write about horses, but is passionate about saving horses.

"I feel like I've got my PhD in this," Brown said of his effort to save horses from slaughter.

Brown, 43, is chronicling his daily f ight through his Web site, www., dedicated to the legacy of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro by improving horse welfare, finding a cure for laminitis, a circulatory disorder of the foot, and ending slaughter.

Brown's journey has brought him to Oaklawn Park, where he gallops horses for trainer Steve Asmussen.

"Everything I'm doing is a consequence of following Barbaro," Brown said. "Previously, I had spent the best part of 20 years in racing completely oblivious to horse slaughter and really little regard to horse welfare in general."

Barbaro was euthanized in January 2007 after developing laminitis, which developed after the colt broke multiple bones in his right hind leg shortly after the start of Preakness in May 2006.

Brown became attached to the story while galloping horses at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, where Barbaro was based much of his career.

An Internet marketing professor at the University of Delaware, Brown already was blogging on a site for local trainer Tim Woolley when Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby.

Two weeks later, the site unexpectedly became a mainstream news source.

"We built the traffic up to about 150 page views going into the Preakness," said Brown, a native of Manchester, England. "Then obviously, we know what happened in the Preakness. My initial reaction was to stop the project, because I wasn't going to exploit a very bad situation."

Brown said he was messing around on the site the following day and realized "everybody was Googling Barbaro and getting nothing."

Brown said after he broke a story concerning Barbaro's surgery, the site crashed after receiving 3,000 visits within an hour.

"Basically from then on, I just committed deliberately to providing updates if I could get them," Brown said. "That's how the project began."

Brown said he has a contract with Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, to write a book, Greatness and Goodness: Barbaro and His Legacy.

Brown said three-quarters of the book - 150 pages of pure text - is already on the Internet.

"It's more to establish that Barbaro is great, and then talk about the good things that have occurred as a result of Barbaro, which would be horse slaughter, horse rescue, issues related to horse racing," Brown said.

A little over a year ago, Brown cut his roots and left Fair Hill (he had been based there for 20 years) to tour North America to get a better handle on those issues at a local level.

The easiest way to do that, Brown said, was to work for a trainer and move when the horses moved to another track.

Brown galloped horses at Penn National and Presque Isle in Pennsylvania and at Keeneland and Churchill Downs in Kentucky before going to work exclusively for Asmussen in November 2007 at Sam Houston Race Park in Texas.

Brown also galloped horses last year at Woodbine in Canada. Now he's at Oaklawn for the first time.

Although he's in Arkansas, Brown still runs his Web site, which, in the past two years, has raised more than $1 million to rescue approximately 2,700 horses from the horse slaughter pipeline.

Brown said the site has had almost a million messages posted.

One of the site's recent success stories is Clever Allemont, who won Oaklawn's Rebel and Southwest stakes in 1985 for trainer Lynn Whiting and owner Cal Partee of Magnolia.

Clever Allemont was discovered in a kill pen late last year in Kansas.

Roughly a half-hour after the story was posted on Brown's site, a forum reader donated funds to purchase Clever Allemont from the dealer who sells horses for slaughter.

Clever Allemont is now at Old Friends, a facility for retired thoroughbreds in Georgetown, Ky.

"If any horseman can argue to me that Clever Allemont should be slaughtered, I don't think so," Brown said. "The fact that slaughter is an option puts horses like that at risk. It was purely by chance that a horse rescue was going to that kill pen to go look for a palomino pony, and the kill buyer talked to that rescue and said, 'Look, I've got this old thoroughbred, I really don't want to send him to kill. Will you take it?'

"Even the kill buyer's compassionate enough to realize that horses shouldn't be slaughtered."

Slaughterhouses in Texas and Illinois have closed in recent years, but they are still prevalent in Canada and Mexico.

"The issue is quite complicated, and I think the pro-slaughter lobbies have done a good job convincing people slaughter is necessary," Brown said. "But as a horseman, I know it's not necessary and I certainly know it's not right."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rabid Horse Found in Kentucky

A horse in the Hamilton Lane/North Yarnallton Pike area of Lexington,
Kentucky, has tested positive for rabies, according to a statement
from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

Department Spokesman Kevin Hall said the thoroughbred began showing
clinical signs similar to colic on 5 Feb 2009. The horse was admitted
to an equine hospital and underwent exploratory surgery. While in
isolation following surgery, the animal started having violent
seizures and was euthanized. Testing confirmed rabies in the animal
11 Feb 2009. Hall said the investigation into the level of human
exposure is under way.

"Right now we're looking to see the level of exposure," Hall said.
"We're visiting with the farm and with any workers that might have
been exposed."

A skunk near Abbeywood Road also tested positive this week 8-14 Feb
2009]. Earlier this year, another skunk that tested positive for the
disease was found in a pasture near Spurr Road. In that case, a man
was bitten while trying to dispose of the animal. These bring the
total of rabies cases in the county in 2009 to 5 -- already one more
than in all of 2008.

Kentucky state law requires that dogs, cats, and ferrets maintain
annual rabies vaccinations.

Clinical signs of rabies in a horse can look like many different
things, including colic. The CDC reported 53 cases of rabies in
horses in 2006. A Webinar (Web-based seminar) on rabies, along with a
transcript, presented by Steve Reed, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, is available
at the Source URL, noted above.

[Byline: Erin Ryder, News Editor]

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Susan Baekeland

[This moderator has long been an advocate of rabies vaccination in
horses and any farm animal that is shown or handled. It is very cheap
insurance compared to losing a human life or even a prized animal.
Unfortunately, when a large animal is exposed to rabies there are
often many people exposed before the diagnosis is made. The reason is
because rabies mimics other diseases in our large animals. - Mod.TG]

[A map of the state of Kentucky is available at: click on title above to see;

- CopyEd.EJP]

[see also:
Rabies, equine - USA: (MO) 20080823.2632
Rabies, equine - USA (NH): correction, RI 20070428.1388
Rabies, equine - USA (NH): correction, RI 20070428.1387
Rabies, equine - USA (NH) 20070426.1364
Rabies, equine - USA (TN): alert 20060912.2586
Rabies, equine - USA (NM) 20060330.0956
Rabies, equine - USA (IL) 20041230.3448]

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Requip: A Gamble

Requip Put Mother in Rehab
February 7, 2009. By Jane Mundy

Ocean Springs, MS: Chris M. has her name on a list so she can't step into a casino without being arrested—her choice. However, in the right frame of mind, she wouldn't have chosen to gamble: the prescription drug Requip made that decision for her. Requip compulsive gambling has become a huge problem for people suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome and Parkinson's Disease: they are prescribed the drug without knowing Requip's gambling side effects.

"Before moving here, we lived in Maryland which does not have casinos—buying a lottery ticket was my only gamble," says Chris. "In 2004 my neurologist diagnosed me with Restless Leg Syndrome and prescribed Requip—it really helped but I had no idea how damaging the side effects would be.

"That time of my life was a milestone—we also moved here with my disabled father and I became his full-time caregiver. Then Katrina hit and that put a damper on everything. I started going to the casino by myself and was still taking Requip. I hadn't noticed anything different about my behavior. Then something snapped; I would drop by the casino for a few hours and I would win, then bet more and more. I guess that is part of the disease.

By Christmas of 2005 more casinos started to open; the ones on the coast were still closed from the hurricane. Around this time I was getting into serious trouble: I had opened 5 different credit card accounts and I was paying one with the other—the credit card companies enable you to go deeper into debt. I am not blaming them because the ultimate responsibility was mine, but you get caught up in the gambling disease itself, and Requip was "Mother's Little Helper". This drug puts you in an altered mental state so you don’t realize what is going on.

Once you start with the Requip it creates added stress, it feeds on the anxiety. How do you now get out of debt? And I continued to hide the fact that I was in debt. Eventually the lying, cheating and stealing becomes a way of life, and I was like a full blown alcoholic or drug addict. I hid in the casino to try and make myself feel better.

My father's credit card company had notified him that he was maxed out and he caught me. I joined Gamblers Anonymous for a few months to try and get some help—by this time I had been gambling intensely for about one year--but it didn’t do a whole lot; we have a very small community and nobody attended meetings, just me and another guy.

So I went back to the casino.

My family had no clue, even though I was at the casino a few hours each day, 7 days a week. My husband, Jimmy, didn't know either until he went through the family's finances one day—I used to handle our budget so he didn't find out right away…Jimmy was out of town and I had burned through all the money in our checking account. He tried to pay for parking at the airport and his credit card was denied—maxed out. We had a confrontation and that's when I told him what was going on.

This time I went to some therapy sessions and rehab in Jackson. I was still taking Requip and nobody mentioned anything about Requip gambling side effects. Every addict was at this rehab center and I soon discovered gambling is rather new on the addiction scene; it is weird but drugs and alcohol are more acceptable whereas gambling is more private, yet it comes with the same amount of guilt and shame.

I stayed in rehab for 30 days and came home in October, 2006. I haven't gambled since. I had to file bankruptcy the following year and all debts were discharged in December, 2007. Plus I had to leave the family home for 6 months—that was part of the personal bankruptcy law.

We were watching TV one night and a Mirapex ad flashed onscreen, mentioning compulsive behavior and its association with Restless Leg Syndrome. Then I did some research on the Internet: I was outraged—there was Requip, on the same page as Mirapex.

My first thought was, 'Ohmigod you've got to be kidding me!

But at the same time I was relieved, I wasn't the bad person I thought I was. And I was appalled that this powerful drug-- that could alter your life-- was on the market. Here we are in a huge gambling mecca and this doctor prescribes Requip for many patients. She told me that none of her patients had come back to her with compulsive behavior problems. How could a doctor have a patient like me fall through the cracks? She knew about these side effects but didn't say anything to me! I wondered how many other people she hasn't told about Requip and its association with compulsive behavior.

It is just now that Jimmy and I trust each other again. I have my own ATM card back but for the longest time, if I wanted any money I had to ask; it was so embarrassing and humbling. At the age of 53 I had to ask a family member for $10. I always thought I was a good person; taking Requip and dealing with compulsive gambling is a horrible thing to go through."

Mutual Funds Losses Linked to Internet Gambling

February 5, 2009. By Heidi Turner

New York, NY: It is one thing to suffer mutual fund losses when the economy has taken a downturn and everyone is in the same boat. However, it is another situation entirely when your mutual fund loses money because it was invested in companies that were involved in illegal activity. Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens—some mutual funds invested in shady companies, and when regulators shut the operations down, the mutual fund investors lose big time.

We recently spoke to Thomas Sheridan, a partner at law firm Hanly Conroy Bierstein Sheridan Fisher & Hayes LLP, who has brought lawsuits on behalf of investors seeking to recover such losses.

Background Information

"The litigation we have brought involves illegal Internet gambling," says Sheridan. "Until approximately 2006,” he explained, “there were a number of publicly held foreign companies that took bets over the Internet from gamblers in the United States. Examples of those companies include PartyGaming, Sportingbet, BWIN and 888 Holdings.

"It is illegal for companies, regardless of their location, to take bets from gamblers in the United States. In 2003, the United States Department of Justice issued a public warning letter that Internet gambling and offshore sports books operations that accept bets from US customers were in violation of federal law.

"The companies themselves were aware that the government took that position. One of the companies, PartyGaming, went public in 2005 and issued a prospectus to public investors. Because the company did not want anyone to accuse them of being misleading, they were candid about their activities. The prospectus said, 'The US Department of Justice considers that companies offering online gaming to US residents are in violation of existing US federal laws, including (but not limited to) the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Paraphernalia Act and the Travel Act'. They went on to say that despite the risk, they were conducting over 80 percent of their business in the US. Thus, investors were on notice that the US authorities took the position that the gambling was illegal."

Mutual Funds and Internet Gambling

"Despite these risks, many mutual fund managers and advisors caused the mutual funds they controlled to invest in the gambling companies, even though they knew or should have known about the illegalities," Sheridan says.

"In 2006, various prosecutorial offices stepped up criminal and civil proceedings against illegal gambling companies and forced them out of the US market. Some officers were indicted, some were arrested, and some have pled guilty. Basically, the state and federal prosecutors said they had enough of the illegal gambling and put them out of business."

On December 16, 2008, PartyGaming’s founder and former director, Anurag Dikshit, pleaded guilty to illegal Internet gambling and agreed to cooperate with the US Justice Department in an investigation of the Web-based gaming company. Dikshit, 37, the biggest shareholder of Gibraltar-based PartyGaming, entered the plea to one count of online gambling in violation of the Wire Act today and agreed to forfeit $300 million. As alleged in the documents filed and statements made during Dikshit’s plea allocution in Manhattan federal court, and as set forth in his plea agreement with the Government: From about 1997 through October 2006, PartyGaming operated an Internet gambling business which offered casino and poker games, among other games of chance, to customers who wished to gamble online. During that time a substantial majority of PartyGaming’s online gambling customers—who accounted for approximately 85 percent of PartyGaming’s revenue in 2005—were located in the United States.

"When the companies lost their US revenues, they lost approximately 80 percent of their business and the value of their stock went down approximately 80 percent," Sheridan says. "As a result of that, the US mutual funds that had been caused to invest in these companies lost tens of millions of dollars. A lot of mutual funds did this. We don't know exactly how much each mutual fund invested, but we know that dozens of mutual funds invested millions of dollars in these companies.

"We believe that many of these mutual funds lost millions of dollars and some mutual funds lost tens of millions of dollars."

The Lawsuits

"We have filed 3 lawsuits so far," Sheridan says. "The first is McBrearty v. The Vanguard Group, the second is Seidl v. American Century Companies and the third is Gamoran v. Neuberger Berman Management. All three lawsuits are in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York and all are assigned to Judge Denise Cote.

"All 3 lawsuits basically claim the same thing: when investment managers and advisors caused the mutual funds to invest in illegal gambling companies, they were violating a federal statute that makes it a felony to own an interest in or to finance a gambling company [The Anti-Gambling Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1955].

"If you violate that statute repeatedly, that is considered racketeering under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act [RICO, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-68].

"What we say is that when the fund managers caused the mutual funds to invest in illegal gambling, they violated the RICO statute, were negligent in their actions, breached fiduciary duties and wasted fund assets. We are claiming that the investment advisors and managers should have to pay damages to the mutual funds to compensate investors for losses suffered as a result of illegal investments.

"It is important to note that we are not suing to recover money from the mutual funds but rather on behalf of the mutual funds for the benefit of their investors. Those who will have to pay are investment advisors and managers. Those who will benefit are the investors and the mutual funds themselves.

"The lawsuits are brought in the form of a derivative action—[which occurs when] the plaintiff is a shareholder in a company or a member of limited liability or something of that sort and they sue on behalf of the organization they are a part of. In this case, investors are suing on behalf of the mutual funds against the investment advisors and managers who harmed the mutual funds.

"Any investor, in order to be part of a lawsuit, must have been an investor at the time of the wrongdoing, in this case probably in or before 2006. If they didn't invest until 2007, they don't have a claim because most of these companies were out of the market and the losses were already suffered by then.

"The other qualification is that they have to still own the mutual shares. If they don't own the shares any more, they can't be part of lawsuit. Derivative lawsuits are only for current shareholders.

"Vanguard, American Century and Neuberger were just 3 of the mutual fund families that lost millions investing in illegal gambling. There were many others. My firm is interested in speaking to investors who invested in those other mutual funds that lost money investing in illegal gambling."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

UK Racehorse Slaughter & Foal Killing

Why healthy foals are being killed across end up as dog food and on French dinner plates

By Zoe Brennan

Graceful and sleek, the beautiful bay racehorse was used to the thunder of applause as she swept past the grandstand - not the sound of a rifle. The seven-year-old mare had raced at courses up and down the country, nostrils flaring, long neck straining and mane flying in the wind as she approached the winning post. However, earlier this month, her career ended unceremoniously with one last outing - to the slaughterhouse.

She was led into a 12ft square metal stall and killed with a bullet fired from the 'meat man's' .22 rifle into her brain.

No more crowds, galloping hooves up the home straight or champagne corks popping. That single shot was the last sound she heard.

For the bullet: Just one of the thousands of horses paying the price of the recession

Next, her body was lifted and strung up by her elegant hind legs, and her throat cut. Then the process of dismemberment, disembowelling and flaying began. Afterwards, her carcass was loaded onto a freezer lorry and driven to the Continent, to be sold as gourmet meat.

Shockingly, this perfectly healthy racehorse was taken from her stables in Lambourn, Berkshire, and slaughtered at a British abattoir simply because 'business is bad' in the racing world.

Her owner, who talks only on condition he is not named, says curtly: 'I didn't have a choice. I couldn't afford to keep her at the stud.'

The man did at least have a pang of conscience - he had first called Serena Miller, of the Midland Racehorse Care Centre in Ludlow, Shropshire, to see if she could take the animal.

'He had two mares, and we put them on our waiting list. But when I called back, he told me they'd already been sent to the abattoir. It was very, very upsetting,' she says.

So much for the sport of kings. A Mail investigation has revealed that, across Britain, the racing industry is indulging in wholesale slaughter: foals are being killed at birth; mares shot in the field; pregnant horses aborted and healthy prize-winners butchered in abattoirs.

In the meantime, racehorse rescue centres are so overwhelmed by abandoned animals that their waiting lists are longer than ever.

A deadly combination of the credit crunch, plunging bloodstock prices and an over-production of horses during the racing boom of the past few years has resulted in a slaughter which could not be further removed from the glamour of the racecourse.

A few weeks ago, for example, the eight-year-old chestnut gelding, Cash King, which came sixth in a field of 16 at Aintree last May and won thousands of pounds in prize money, was rescued by an animal charity as he was about to be loaded onto a lorry for the slaughterhouse. A stable lad alerted the charity to the horse's plight.

One source says: 'The bottom has fallen out of the industry and we are seeing some true horror stories.'

There are two main horse abattoirs in Britain: L.J. Potter in Taunton, Somerset (where animals are killed on Wednesdays), and Turners near Nantwich, Cheshire, where they carry out 'equine services' on Fridays.

Unscrupulous: Foals are no longer worth last year's 'extortionate' prices

Serena Miller witnessed what happens at Turners: 'I went in pretending to be a racehorse owner and was given a tour of the slaughterhouse by Valerie Turner, the owner's wife,' she says.

'There were some very young thoroughbreds waiting to be killed. They were just babies. Shots were going off all the time, and they were petrified.

'They were shaking, weeing themselves, eating each others' necks. Their eyes were wild, they were wet with sweat and there was a stink of blood. I asked how long they had been there for, and I was told a week.

'A week waiting in terror to be shot. It was a sorry sight. I was told that their trainer had dropped them off on the way to the races.'

Miller was also shown the slaughtered horses being skinned. 'They put the carcass on the floor, with their foot in the middle of the horse's head. They then held it by the ears and ripped the skin off. They threw it to one side. It turned my stomach.'

Turners claims to kill about 700 racehorses a year. The skins go into the leather trade, while the meat is shipped for human consumption on the Continent, with off-cuts going for dog meat.

Certainly, this is not the world imagined by racegoers in their Ascot finery. But the problem is made far worse by a huge surfeit of horses, deliberately created in order that only the very best and fastest animals are available to satisfy the demands of the multi-millionaire owners who bankroll the business.

Animal Aid, the welfare body which monitors the industry, says 18,000 foals were born in the British and Irish racing industry in 2008 - double the number of a decade ago. Only 8,000 make it into competitive racing.

Of the remaining 10,000, about 2,000 racehorses a year are slaughtered at abattoirs, according to Animal Aid.

Research by the Food Standards Agency shows that, in 2008, a total of 3,183 horses were killed in British abattoirs.

But this does not tell the whole story. A number of live animals are sent to the Continent to be slaughtered, with some ending up at French 'fat farms', where they are bulked up in order to get the best price at the butcher.

And an unknown number are shot dead on British farms.

Happily, a proportion end up loved and employed in other areas of the horse world. And some are used as brood mares - although now there is no profit in producing a foal, there is far less demand.

However, the racehorse industry disputes Animal Aid's figures. The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) says it conducted an audit of thoroughbreds last year - horses can be 'tracked' thanks to micro-chipping and the introduction of 'horse passports' - and it found that about 1,200 had been killed in abattoirs. A further unspecified number were killed in Irish slaughterhouses.

Lost glamour: A racehorse is led off to be shot at an abbattoir

Professor Tim Morris, director of equine science and welfare at the BHA, says: 'The humane killing of an animal is not in itself a welfare issue.

'We have no objective data to make us think there are major welfare issues, though we recognise that 2009 is likely to be a testing year for owners of any kind of horse.

'We need to ensure we are well-informed and neither over nor under-reacting on thoroughbred welfare. We will continue to work closely with animal welfare organisations.'

It is the fate of newborn foals that is perhaps the most gruesome. In the boom years, breeders would pay a stud fee - sometimes running into hundreds of thousands of pounds - to have their mare covered by a stallion, and would then sell the resulting foal for considerably more.

Today, however, the foals are no longer worth anything like the stud fees that breeders committed themselves to paying 11 months ago - the length of a horse's gestation.

And so unscrupulous and desperate breeders have found a grotesque and illegal solution: killing foals at birth - or aborting them - to avoid having to stump up the fees, which become payable only once the foal has lived for 48 hours.

'Breeders pay a nomination fee to have a mare covered by a stallion. Last year, that fee could have been £250,000, but now you would pay half that for the same stallion,' says a bloodstock agent.

'A lot of people are making sure the foals don't live 48 hours so they can avoid having to pay the fee. Why pay last year's extortionate prices when you won't cover your cost on selling the foal?' There are also reports of pregnant mares being 'given a shot' by the vet to induce abortion, again to avoid paying stallion fees.

A spokesman for the BHA says: 'It is possible that some of the thoroughbreds put down last year were foals. Foals can certainly suffer from accidents in paddocks or have physical problems that could prevent them becoming racehorses.

'I would reiterate again that the Authority regulates racing, not breeding, and requires that those it licences, in this case owners and trainers, meet the law - the Animal Welfare Act.'

Foals which previously might have been sold for £40,000 each at auction now sell for just hundreds of pounds - if at all. The result is that many breeders are abandoning unsold foals at auction houses rather than taking them home.

Just before Christmas, Animal Aid received a tip-off from a well-known National Hunt jockey that 18 thoroughbred foals were destroyed after a horse auction at Goffs in Ireland (which supplies the British race circuit).

Gruesome: Breeders are killing newborn foals to avoid paying the stud fees

The healthy young animals had not sold, and so their owners paid for them to be put down rather than take them home and bear the expense of keeping them.

Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler says: 'An increasing number of thoroughbreds are being killed because they are just not profitable,' he says. 'The recession is putting owners under pressure, and this is an industry which disposes of its surplus ruthlessly, without sentiment.'

A racing insider says: 'There has been a real over-production and the industry is in a mess. It is stagnant. Horses have been turning up at sales half-starved because owners can't afford to feed them.'

Andrew Goatman, an independent knacker's man working in Devon and Cornwall, confirms the gruesome trend: 'There has been a marked increase in the number of racehorses being shot. I'm a one-man band, but the big abattoirs must be busy. I've shot ten racehorses since Christmas.'

Stephen Potter, a partner at Potters abattoir, admits they are seeing more racehorses - particularly brood mares - but he believes it is better for a racehorse to be put down than sold cheaply.

Potter, who estimates he is slaughtering around 750 racehorses a year, says: 'There has been a great deal of growth in racing in the past decade, and now, with the recession, interest is waning.

'It is better for a racehorse to be put down than for it to go to a home where it will be neglected.'

As for the welfare centres, they cannot cope with the demand. Serena Miller, of the Midland Care Centre, says: 'We are turning away more and more racehorses every day. I have noticed an increase in the number of people calling who are considering slaughter as an option.'

Increasingly, she is finding that, rather than pay vet's bills to have the horse put down, which can cost as much as £500, owners are looking to cover costs by selling the horse for meat - they can pocket £650 for a full-grown thoroughbred.

Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock, officer of the Parliamentary Animal Welfare Group, has demanded an investigation into what he calls 'a barbaric waste'.

'This disgusting slaughter of healthy animals is a tragedy, a horrendous story,' he says. 'When you consider the amount of money in the horse-racing business, it is scandalous that they are disposing of animals in this callous manner.

'Many organisations would welcome these animals - they can be retrained and placed with private owners.'

That, indeed, would have been a gentler fate for the friendly bay mare than a perfunctory bullet in the head. We can only hope she has gone to a greener, more pleasant land than the racing world.