Breathing Ops – should they be subject to greater scrutiny?

Paul Nicholls reports that more than 20 of his string have had breathing operations during the summer. Mr Nicholls seems to be the chief advocate for this process.
Does anyone have any stats on the effectiveness of this surgery? Anecdotally, my impression is that they rarely offer more than very short term benefit.

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’.

About Steeplechasing

Writer, horse-racing fan, cyclist, consultant, entrepreneur. Worked at Aintree, SiS, The Tote, Ladbrokes. Created scoop6. Now run Gamtrain Ltd

Posted on August 8, 2011, in General and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. It is clear that all wind operations should be declared by the trainer and the information made available to the public. Under the current rules trainers are required to declare all additional equipment to be worn by the horse including tongue straps, blinkers, visors, cheek pieces etc etc. Similarly they required to inform the authorities of any issue during a race which impacts on the horses performance, and such reports are published. Given that top trainers like Paul Nicholls place such store on wind operations and their potential positive effects, it is difficult to see why these operations do not come under the same category and therefor be reported and the information made available to the public.

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