Breathing Ops – should they be subject to greater scrutiny?
If the stats show these ops are effective, should trainers be obliged formally to declare them before the horse next runs?
If Mr Nicholls who, arguably has his pick of the best and healthiest horses, deems surgery necessary on such a high percentage of his string, how many among the general population of racehorses suffer breathing problems?
Should horses with breathing problems be racing at all? (welfare issue?)
Surgery is invasive and must carry a degree of risk to the animal; if medication were available to do the same job, would the BHA allow it to be administered? If not why is a different medical intervention allowed which produces the same result?
Are breathing ops performed to correct ‘faults’ or enhance oxygen intake in an otherwise healthy animal? If the latter, should they be permitted?
I’ve asked Paul Struthers (head of communications at the BHA) if the BHA keep any stats on horses who’ve had breathing ops. Paul says that , in short, they do not. He points out that there are numerous different procedures which tend to be bracketed as ‘breathing ops’.