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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Campaigners call for Grand National to be banned

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Injury and death – the only sure bet at Aintree, say charities

Animal rights campaigners are calling for people to boycott this weekend’s Grand National and for the popular horse race to be banned.

The League Against Cruel Sports and Animal Aid are both asking the public not to bet on the Aintree race on Saturday saying the only sure thing is that horses will get injured and die.

In campaigns against the race, both charities have highlighted that six horses died during last year’s three-day festival, four on the Grand National course and two racing on Aintree’s Mildmay course. Since 2000, 48 horses have been killed during the highly lucrative meet.

The eague is warning that until horse welfare is put above profit, entertainment and sport, horses will continue to suffer and die on race-courses including Aintree.

Eduardo Gonçalves, chief executive of the charity, said: “There’ll be a sense of disappointment all over the UK on Saturday when those millions of people who have made their annual bet on the National realise their horse didn’t make it to the end. They will have however only lost a few quid – for some horses it will cost them their lives.

“We urge animal-lovers to take a step back from all the hype and think about what they are actually betting on. The horses that make it to the end of the race will be the lucky ones. Sadly, there are those who will lose out and end up in a hastily erected white tent at the bottom of a jump.

“Until race organisers get the message that cruelty will no longer be tolerated, the safety and welfare of the horses and jockeys will not be a priority and more injuries and fatalities will sadly be inevitable.”

Animal Aid has been running a poster campaign highlighting the recent deaths in the lead up to this year’s race.

The posters feature a stark image of horses falling and the words: Grand National Meeting 48 horses dead since 2000. Don’t Bet on the Grand National.

The posters depict the death of a horse called Dooneys Gate, who broke his back at the notorious Becher’s Brook in 2011.

That image, however, was deemed to be too shocking for the public, and in order to run the posters, Animal Aid had to place the word graphic over the stricken horse’s face.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “The Grand National itself is a punishing and hazardous event. Of the 40 horses who usually take part, fewer than half are likely to finish. Last year, six horses died at the Grand National Meeting. Four of the six victims perished on the Grand National Course; the worst total since before the year 2000.”

Despite the charities’ anger bookmakers estimate that over £200 million will be spent on bets in this year’s race.