VIDEO: Shocking footage of racehorse's death at Doncaster St Leger released by animal charity
This is the shocking moment a racehorse reared up and broke a leg in the stalls at Doncaster's St Leger meeting - and had to be shot dead moments later in front of horrified children.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: This article contains images and video that some viewers may find distressing.
The harrowing footage, released by animal rights charity Animal Aid, shows five-year-old Mukaynis careering around in the starting stalls ahead of a race at Town Moor on Saturday - Leger Day.
The horse, which was wearing blinkers, became upset when a handler ran in front of the gates ahead of the second race, the 2.35pm Ladbrokes Portland Handicap.
It caused the animal to rear up, smashing its leg against the starting gates, leaving its limb hanging sickeningly by a piece of skin and then being shot a few moments later, leaving children watching nearby in tears, according to an eyewitness.
Dene Stansall, horse consultan at Animal Aid, said: "Many of the horses were fractious and banging against the stalls. Mukaynis was suddenly startled by a stall-handler running in front of the stalls, directly across his line of vision, just as the race was about to start.
"He reared and caught his leg in the stall gates. In the ensuing panic, he broke his left foreleg.
"Once freed, Mukaynis was seen with his leg hanging and swinging, held by mere skin and with the bone exposed. Yet the race continued, with the other horses and jockeys racing off towards the grandstands. Minutes later, Mukaynis was shot with a silenced handgun."
The gelding was part of a huge field of 21 horses loaded into the starting stalls.
Mr Stansall said: "It took quite some time to load the horses into the stalls and by the time this particular horse entered, there was plenty of noisy activity.
"With this, the horse panicked and reared, trapping his left foreleg in the stall gates. A jockey was heard to shout: “He’s broke his leg.” Minutes later, the vet tried to inject the horse but the horse was trying to get away. They shot him. Race-goers were in tears as the poor animal was loaded onto a trailer and taken away."
He added that people were told to back off and put their cameras away by race organisers as Mukaynis was attended to.
Mr Stansall added: "It was a very harrowing scene – the worst thing I have ever seen on a racecourse. He was shaking with nerves, he was so terrified of what had just happened.
"My daughter was inconsolable as soon as she saw that bone sticking out of the leg."
Animal Aid has campaigned for 15 years against what it regards as a cruel and exploitative racing industry, for whom thoroughbred horses are an expendable source of revenue and prestige.
He added: "The scenes at Doncaster show just how perilous racing is for horses. And starting stalls are particularly hazardous, as evidenced by the injuries, some fatal, that occur every year.
"The British Horseracing Authority, the industry’s regulatory body, must act at once to formally acknowledge the dangers stalls present to horses and take action to eliminate their use."
A spokeswoman for Arena Racing Company said: ‘On Saturday at Doncaster, Mukaynis injured himself in the starting stalls prior to the second race.
"Horses are at risk of hurting themselves whatever activity they are engaged in, whether at home, turned out in a field, or doing what they are bred to do, which is race.
"A horse hurting itself in the stalls in this manner is exceptionally rare, it is a sad accident and goes to illustrate the fact that when horses are involved it is impossible to entirely remove risk.
"No one will be more upset than the owner, trainer and all the stable staff who cared for the horse throughout his life.
"The stall handlers and veterinary team were quick and decisive in their action and made sure the horse received the best care possible but unfortunately on this occasion it was not possible to save him.
"Thousands of horses race every year with a very low fatality rate of 0.2%. Every precaution is taken to ensure the highest standards of equine welfare, making British Racing one of the best regulated animal activities with welfare standards far exceeding existing national legislation."