CAMPAIGNERS from an animal rights group held a demonstration against horse racing at Worcester Racecourse on Saturday.

The protest was organised by the Worcester Vegans and Veggies and staged to coincide with the Ladies Day meeting that took place outside the Pitchcroft ground on Saturday, (June 4).

The group, which has mounted similar protests outside the racecourse in the past, says its campaign is about educating the public about the 'suffering and slaughter of animals caused by the racing industry'.

Ronald Lee, who organised the protest, said 15 members of the group, dressed as ladies and gents, attended and held banners and placards.

"The aim of the demonstration was to educate the public and to urge people not to attend the race day or, at least, to never attend or bet on horse racing again," Mr Lee said.

"Protesters gave out hundreds of leaflets to racegoers, many of whom were horrified to learn about the plight of the horses.

"A model of a horse covered by a tarpaulin was used to emphasise what happens to those who get seriously injured while racing.

"And more than 40 have been killed at the Worcester course in the past nine years, making it one of the most dangerous for horses in the country.

"A horse called Fearthedark appeared to have been badly injured in the first race on Saturday and we are still awaiting news of his fate."

Sam Cone from Arena Racing Company, which manages the course, said: "Equine welfare is a top priority at Worcester Racecourse as it is at all British courses.

"The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is the Government recognised body responsible for the regulation of horse racing.

"Together with recognised welfare charities the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare, BHA ensures the highest standards of horse welfare are demanded of all jockeys, trainers and racecourses and far exceed those prescribed by animal welfare legislation.

"As with any equine activity, racing is a sport that carries risk, and as with any equine activity that risk can never be entirely eliminated.

"British Racing is open and transparent about the risks involved. From around 90,000 runners each year the average fatality rate is just 0.2 per cent, a figure which has decreased by 33 per cent in the last 15 years.”