The risk of fatal distal limb fractures in thoroughbreds racing in the UK was calculated and shown to vary considerably between the different types of race. Flat turf racing was associated with the lowest risk (0-4 per 1000 starts) and national hunt flat racing was associated with the highest risk (2.2 per 1000 starts). The types of fracture were classified by detailed radiographic and postmortem examinations of all the cases recorded over two years, and the distribution of the different types of fracture in the five main types of racing was examined. Overall, lateral condylar fractures of the third metacarpus were the most common, and they were also the most common in national hunt-type races (hurdle, steeplechase and national hunt flat races). In all-weather flat racing biaxial proximal sesamoid fractures were most common, and in turf flat racing fractures of the first phalanx were most common. The risk of fractures of more than one bone was greater in national hunt-type races.
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