The Grand National is an annual horseracing event held in Aintree which is just up the road from where I live. It has been going since 1839 and is over 4 miles long with 30 fences. The Grand National is one of the most popular horse racing events and it is estimated that around 600 million people watch it all over the world. It has previously been known as one of the most intense and difficult tracks for horses to run and this was one of its main selling points. Over time the race has apparently become more focussed on the welfare of the horses running it. Many of the more dangerous fences have been altered so that they are safer (much to the disgust of many horse racing fans) and vets have been made more available. Despite these changes many animal rights campaigners and horse lovers campaign for the Grand National to be banned every year.
Why? Because over the past 50 years at least 36 horses have died because of the race.
That’s 36 horses that have died for our entertainment.
36 horses that have died so that we can have a cheeky bet.
There are problems with the course which even Grand National fans will admit. These include fences that are too demanding and catch horses out, the crowded field of 40 runners and the extreme length of the race. In fact over the last 10 years only 37% of the horses have finished the race. There are also arguments about the age of the horses, how prepared they are for the race, the number of runners and much more. I could go into a lot of detail about ways the Grand National has been improved and ways it still needs improving. This would be a waste of time. Let’s go back to that all important number. 36 horses.
It all comes back to the fact that animals should not be put in danger just for our entertainment. I already know what some of the arguments will be from the lovers of this race.
“The horses enjoy it”
“The jockeys care about the horses”
“They’re not in that much danger”
It is inherently wrong that horses be raced at all, never mind in conditions like these. The truly believe that the horses do enjoy it at least some of the time but that doesn’t change the fact that they are being exploited for our pleasure. The jockeys probably do care about the horses but they are still exploiting them. It doesn’t matter if the danger has decreased over the years, there is still danger there.
That is why I cannot support the Grand National.
For more information please read the fact file put together by Animal Aid. It is an interesting read!
Another useful website is Horse Deathwatch which lists all of the horse fatalities since 2007. It is scary reading!