THOUSANDS of racehorses are killed in slaughterhouses in the UK and Ireland each year, it's reported.
Some of the horses were previously owned and trained by some of racing's biggest names, it's claimed.
More than 4,000 former racehorses were slaughtered in Britain and Ireland since 2019, BBC Panorama reports.
Undercover recordings allegedly show how rules to protect horses from a cruel death appeared to be regularly ignored at one of Britain's largest abattoirs,tonight's investigation The Dark Side of Horse Racing claims.
The abattoir, Drury and Sons in Swindon – which has a licence to kill horses -told the BBC it didn't accept any form of animal abuse.
Three of the horses allegedly shot in the abattoir were reportedly trained by three-time Grand National-winning coach Gordon Elliot .
In March, Elliott was axed by Betfair and suspended from racing after he sparked fury when he was photographed sitting on a dead horse.
Covert cameras were installed by campaign group Animal Aid at the abattoir with footage from four days at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020.
Animal Aid spokesman Dene Stansall said: "When we looked at the footage we were absolutely astounded at the sheer volume of young thoroughbreds."
Footage showed dozens of former racehorses being slaughtered, with most of them majority of young horses from Ireland, the BBC reports.
When we looked at the footage we were absolutely astounded at the sheer volume of young thoroughbreds
Some of the horses shot in the abattoir had previous illustrious racing careers, winning thousands of pounds.
Mr Elliott told Panorama none of the three animals allegedly trained by him in Ireland in the past were sent to the abattoir by him.
They were retired from racing after being injured and weren't under his care when they were killed, he told the BBC.
Two were sent to a horse dealer "to be rehomed if possible, and if not, to be humanely euthanised" in accordance with regulations, the told the broadcaster.
He said he gave a third horse to another rider as requested by its owner and was unaware what happened to them until Panorama contacted him.
Regulations say horses shouldn't be slaughtered within sight of each other, with every effort made to ensure a quick death.
The footage taken by Animal Aid's cameras showed horses being shot 26 times.
Prof Daniel Mills, a veterinary behavioural specialist from the University of Lincoln, who saw the footage, said: "A gunshot going off is going to be startling.
"Seeing another horse suddenly drop, these are all going to be very distressing for a horse in this situation."
If that's representative of how they're being killed, then we've got a really serious problem
In 91 incidents, horses were shot from a distance instead of close up, the BBC reports.
Commenting on one killing, Prof Mills added: "It doesn't look like the horse is even stunned.
"You can see it's turning its head. It seems to have got some control actually over its head and neck.
"If that's representative of how they're being killed, then we've got a really serious problem."
A spokesman for the abattoir said it takes "great care to maintain high welfare conditions and do not accept any form of animal abuse".
All horses are "humanely destroyed'' and the abattoir takes ''swift action to review and rectify" any issues, the spokesman said.
Mr Elliott told the BBC: "None of those animals were sent by me to the abattoir."
Sun Online has contacted Drury and Sons and Gordon Elliott for comment.
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