The racing industry is defending its safety record after two horses died and five jockeys were injured at a jumps meeting in Hamilton on Sunday.
Yangming, a 7-year-old gelding, was put down after falling heavily, fracturing a shoulder at the third-last fence in the hurdles at the National Jumps Day competition at Te Rapa Racecourse .
Roberty Bob, a 10-year-old gelding, was also put down after jumping poorly, breaking an elbow in the steeplechase.
"It's always a tragedy," New Zealand Racing Integrity Unit co-chief stipendiary steward Ross Neal said.
"It wasn't the best of days.
"There were five jockeys injured as well, luckily none of them too seriously. That's probably the bigger story of the day more than the horses, I would say."
Shaun Phelan suffered a concussion and fractured jaw, Cody Singer got concussion and an AC joint injury, Kayla Veenendaal was also concussed and Amy Taylor and Niall Quinn had suspected back injuries.
"To have this number of incidents in a day is truly unique, really. I can't recall it," Neal said.
"It's the exception rather than the norm that's for sure."
Animal welfare group Safe's campaign director Eliot Pryor said the deaths highlighted the cruelty of horse racing.
"This year's toll averages almost two deaths a month and is a side of jumps racing that punters do not see when placing a bet," he said.
Pryor called for Racing Minister Nathan Guy, to ban the sport in 2014 and the public to boycott racing events.
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing secretary Simon Cooper said that while it was rare to have two horses die in one day, Safe's demands were unrealistic.
"Safe is asking for a zero-death tolerance level which is, to be honest, unrealistic when you consider the level of racing in this country," he said.
"[We] will continue to monitor and look at ways to make it safer, but like with all physical activities there will always be a risk involved."
He said that in the 2012-13 season there were 12 deaths from 30,380 starts in races on the flat and 8 deaths from 951 starts in jump races.
"So it's a total of 20," he said.
"So that's a ratio of about 0.4 in 1000 starts, which is quite good. Internationally that's about half the average."
The National Jumps day was the last jumping event of the season.
- © Fairfax NZ News