"I truly hope you break your f------ neck": Jockey attacked

 

"I truly hope you break your f***ing neck."

That's one of dozens of hateful messages sent to Gold Coast jockey Laura Cheshire after the 35-year-old's former champion racehorse was tortured and slaughtered at the hands of abattoir workers in secret hidden camera footage.

Cheshire watched in horror on Thursday night as a 7.30 investigation showed thoroughbred War Ends being beaten savagely before receiving a bolt in the head.

As far as she knew, her former horse was in his "forever home" after she spent years making sure he was being looked after.

In an exclusive interview with news.com.au on Friday, Cheshire shared her grief at having watched the horse she loved - a horse she rode for a year - being treated with such disdain.

 

Jockey Laura Cheshire after racing on Friday. Picture: John Gass
Jockey Laura Cheshire after racing on Friday. Picture: John Gass

 

"Next thing I know he's on TV getting a bolt in his head," Cheshire said through tears at the track at Ipswich. "It was horrific. It was unbearable to watch."

But what followed that story was shocking abuse that left her asking: "When did humans become such a horrible species?"

"I'm still overwhelmed that I saw what I did, and that I am now copping hate messages from people who've never even picked up a horses foot let alone sat in a paddock in the middle of winter with one that was on deaths door and helped it pull through," she wrote on Facebook.

"When did humans become such a horrible species? When did vegan militants decide they were so far above others that messages of abuse were acceptable? This blows my mind."

The messages, shown to news.com.au, accuse the champion jockey of being a hypocrite and putting "spin" on a story that makes the horseracing industry look bad.

 

Various abuse targeting Laura Cheshire.
Various abuse targeting Laura Cheshire.

 

An elderly male had this message for Cheshire.
An elderly male had this message for Cheshire.

 

Messages received by Cheshire.
Messages received by Cheshire.

To the person who told her he hopes she breaks her neck, Cheshire responded: "I've already broken my neck, but thank you. Such a kind-hearted person."

The 35-year-old also received plenty of messages of support. One in particular, from an eight-year-old girl, "puts things back into perspective", she said.

"I love watching you ride with your pink saddle," the girl wrote. "I have read all the stuff about the racehorses and it makes me so angry and sad.

"You must be very sad about all the horses but even sadder about the one you rode."

Cheshire told news.com.au on Friday how she was watching TV when she saw her former racehorse being tortured.

Prior to that, she had spent years trying to find the retired racehorse a safe place to live out his remaining years.

That journey saw War Ends passed along from respected trainer Maryann Brosnan to a "reputable show home".

 

Cheshire was heartbroken watching her former horse being tortured. Picture: Peter Wallis
Cheshire was heartbroken watching her former horse being tortured. Picture: Peter Wallis

 

He then went to a woman who Cheshire said was "getting thoroughbreds off the track and selling them as 'beginners' to people who have no idea what they're doing".

War Ends was starved and "emaciated" when Cheshire tracked him down on a farm near Toowoomba, but the pregnant owner couldn't keep him so again the jockey intervened.

She found a woman who promised to look after War Ends and who regularly updated her with text message reports on the thoroughbred's wellbeing.

All was going well until one day when Cheshire asked how War Ends was travelling.

"She said she had given the horse away and the people she'd given the horse to took off and she didn't know where he was," Cheshire said.

The woman promised to find the new owner's contact details then she disappeared. Cheshire didn't see War Ends again until he appeared on TV screens across Australia.

"She knew I would've rehomed the horse," Cheshire said.

 

Cheshire after crashing from her horse.
Cheshire after crashing from her horse.

 

Cheshire sent the horse's last owner a text message on Friday morning that read: "What the f**k is wrong with you? You were supposed to be a responsible home for this horse."

The 7.30 investigation left racing bodies in damage control.

Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said the footage was "distressing".

"The inhumane treatment of horses is abhorrent and should not be happening under any circumstances," he said.

"As an industry, we have a collective responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of our horses."

Racing Victoria responded by promising to audit former racehorses that have not raced for 18 months. Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said the footage was "sickening".

"We are sickened by the horrific images that we saw on ABC 7.30 last night, particularly the inhumane treatment of horses at the Queensland abattoir," he said.

 

Cheshire has always put her horses first, even after retirement.
Cheshire has always put her horses first, even after retirement.

 

"Abattoirs and knackeries are regulated by state governments, and we expect those authorities to ensure animal welfare standards are maintained and compliance is strictly enforced."

Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys said "the vision was sickening and horrendous".

"Racing NSW calls upon the Queensland Government and its Department of Primary Industries to take the strongest possible action against the alleged perpetrators of such cruelty," he said.

World Animal Protection head of campaigns Ben Pearson said the footage should be a wake-up call.

"The ABC footage of Australian horses being tormented and slaughtered on an industrial scale is sickening," he said in a statement.

"If anyone had any faith in the industry's ability to regulate and protect animals from abuse, it has surely been shattered."

 

 

 

 

Cheshire was blamed for her horse’s death.
Cheshire was blamed for her horse’s death.
Cheshire broke her neck during a race.
Cheshire broke her neck during a race.

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