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Last Updated: Monday, 17 December 2007, 13:13 GMT
Racecourse demo over horse deaths
Runners and riders at Plumpton Racecourse
Six horses have died at Plumpton since March
Animal rights campaigners are protesting at an East Sussex racecourse about the numbers of racehorses which die in the industry every year.

An Animal Aid member, dressed as the spectre of death, is stationed at the main entrance to Plumpton Racecourse.

The charity said six horses had died at the racecourse, near Lewes, since mid-March this year.

Plumpton's chief executive, Patrick Davis, said significant investment had been made to minimise risks to horses.

Animal Aid's protest is part of a national campaign, Race Horse Deathwatch, which has recorded the deaths of 115 racehorses in the UK this year.

Heart attacks

Five horses at Plumpton were destroyed because of injuries received during races and one collapsed and died at the starting line, campaigners say.

"These are deaths that are endemic to the racing industry," said Animal Aid spokesman Andrew Tyler.

"We don't want to ban horse-racing, we just want to put the facts before the public."

Mr Davis said some of the six deaths at Plumpton were from natural causes such as heart attacks.

"Everyone who joins the racing industry has a love for horses, and no-one feels it more when these sad incidents happen," he said.

"There is significant investment in research and [racecourse] surfaces to minimise the risks."

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