Risk factors for race-day fatality, distal limb fracture and epistaxis in Thoroughbreds racing on all-weather surfaces in Great Britain (2000 to 2013)

Rosanowski, S M and Chang, Y M and Stirk, A J and Verheyen, K L P (2017) Risk factors for race-day fatality, distal limb fracture and epistaxis in Thoroughbreds racing on all-weather surfaces in Great Britain (2000 to 2013). PREVENTIVE VETERINARY MEDICINE, 148. pp. 58-65.

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Abstract

The incidence of race-day injuries in Great Britain (GB) is higher on all-weather (AW) surfaces than on turf. However, to date no studies have focused on identifying risk factors for injury specific to AW racing. Therefore, the objective of the current study was to determine risk factors for fatality, distal limb fracture (DLF) and episodes of epistaxis in flat racing Thoroughbreds racing on AW surfaces in GB. Data included all flat racing starts on AW surfaces (n = 258,193) and race-day veterinary events recorded between 2000 and 2013. Information on additional course-level variables was gathered during face-to-face interviews with racecourse clerks. Horse-, race- and course-level risk factors for each outcome were assessed using mixed-effects multivariable logistic regression including horse as a random effect. A classification tree method was used to identify potential interaction terms for inclusion in the models. During the study period, there were 233 fatalities resulting in a fatality incidence of 0.90 per 1000 starts; 245 DLF with a resultant DLF incidence of 0.95 per 1000 starts and 410 episodes of epistaxis resulting in an epistaxis incidence of 1.59 per 1000 starts. Risk factors varied for each outcome, although some factors were similar across models including the going, racing intensity, horse age, age at first race start, horse and trainer performance variables. Generally, older horses and those that had started racing at an older age were at higher risk of an adverse outcome, albeit with an interaction between the two variables in the fatality model. Faster going increased the odds of epistaxis and DLF but not fatality. Increasing race distance increased the odds of fatality but reduced the odds of epistaxis. Epistaxis was associated with type of AW surface (Fibresand versus Polytrack®), but DLF and fatality were not. This study provides further evidence of the association between the risk of race-day injuries and fatalities and current age, age at first start, race distance, going and horse performance. These findings provide the racing industry with information to develop strategies to reduce the occurrence of race-day events on AW surfaces.

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