Animal rights group makes plea ahead of “grotesque spectacle”
An animal rights group is once again calling for punters not to bet on the Grand National this weekend and instead donate to charity.
Animal Aid is asking the public to donate any money they might have bet on the Aintree race on Saturday, to sanctuaries that help rescued horses via its Sanctuary Not Cruelty initiative.
The charity describes the race as comprising of a “dangerously overcrowded ... field of 40 horses ... forced to confront 30 extraordinarily challenging jumps … amid scenes of chaos and multiple falls.”
The charity which, operates the Race Horse Death Watch website, has recorded 1376 horse fatalities at all UK race courses since 2007, says 42 horses have perished taking part in the three-day Aintree event since 2000 – 11 in the Grand National race itself.
A spokesperson said: “The Grand National is still, on average, over five times more lethal than other steeplechases. Eight horses were killed in the main race in the last 10 years.
It remains what it has always been: a grotesque spectacle in which horses’ lives are put at risk
“While there were no deaths in the main race itself in 2015, two horses died in other races at the three-day event.
“In 2012, changes were made to the core of the fences. Despite those highly-publicised alterations, four horses have died on the course in 15 races since their implementation
“In short, it is reckless and selfish to require horses to run the Grand National course, whether in the big race or in other lesser events. It remains what it has always been: a grotesque spectacle in which horses’ lives are put at risk.”
Additionally, on Saturday, Animal Aid has organised protests outside the Merseyside racecourse and at the offices of the race broadcaster, Channel 4, in London.
Fellow animal rights group the League Against Cruel Sports also blasted the race.
It said anyone who turns a blind eye and backs the Grand National while profit, entertainment and sport are taking precedence over animal welfare, cannot be called an animal lover.
Eduardo Goncalves, chief executive of the organisation, said: “People wouldn’t generally choose to see the death of an animal on a day out, but that’s potentially what they’re going to get if they go to a jump race. Horse-racing is a popular sport, and many spectators and participants will love the animals. So why do we still allow so many horses to get hurt or killed?
"We need those in charge to ensure that every measure possible is taken to protect the animals taking part. We’ve seen some improvements in some places, but not enough in many.
“If we believe we are a nation of animal lovers then we need to prove it and not turn a blind eye. Just because a race is glamourous, has been going for years and gives us the chance of an annual flutter is no excuse.”