ONE of the best kept secrets in British sport is the scandalously high number of thoroughbred racehorses that die each year.

They die as a result of injury, heart attack or some other performance-related condition, or because they no longer make the commercial grade.

So far this year, 81 race horses have died on racecourses. This includes three in one day at Hereford racecourse on June 24.

The total number of deaths since June 2007 is 858 and rising every day.

The modern racehorse is bred to be fast, but at the expense of bone strength and general health – calling horse racing a sport is a travesty.

The image of the racehorse that the industry wishes to promote is of a cherished and cosseted animal. What is concealed from the public is that the life of a thoroughbred racer is a series of unremitting challenges.

Horses are magnificent animals and it is terrible that they are treated in such a way simply for sport.

It is a tragedy that so many horses a year die as a result of injuries sustained in racing.

Next time you are getting dressed up for a day at the races or going to place a bet, please spare a thought for the hundreds of horses that die every year.

Alison Jermy, Darlington