Once again this year I have taken a stand and opted out of the office sweepstake. However, over the next few days whether it be in a workplace sweepstake, a group syndicate or just a trip to the bookies many people (most of whom do not normally watch horse racing) will be placing a bet, part of the £500M place annually on the Grand National. Sadly, while this occasion are hugely popular with the general public, most are not aware of the consequences and of the level of injuries and fatalities, not just in the Grand National but at races courses up and down the country.
The Grand National is, by design, an extremely challenging course. Forty horses compete for space on a 4-mile course of obstacles, jumps and dangerous terrain, with many not crossing the finish line:
- 2012 – 15
- 2013 – 17
- 2014 – 18
- 2015 – 19
- 2016 – 16
The level of deaths on the courses is not widely reported in the main stream media. As at close of play on 5 April 2017 www.horsedeathwatch.com reports 1524 Deaths in the 3678 Days since the 2007 Cheltenham Festival (although industry insiders suggest this to be understated by 30%).
The Grand National remains unreasonably dangerous because of the height and angle of the fences, the length of the race and the large number of competitors, 40.
Becher’s Brook is known as the world’s most dangerous jump and has racked up many fatalities, yet authorities refuse to remove it
When a horse falls their death is usually traumatic and frightening, a mess of tangled limbs, fractured bones and broken necks or spines. The very fact that a the jump Becher’s Brook is famous is only because a large number of horses and riders have fallen there – often leading to injury and death.
As part of the current campaign, Animal Aid has run a London Underground poster campaign to deter betting on the Grand National.
The posters feature the 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. However even though it is deemed acceptable that horses are forced into this situation, the image, was classified 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. If the reality is to shocking why is it allowed to continue?
Despite the cruelty, horse racing continues because of the money made by the horse racing and betting industries. While they are making money horses will continue to die.
Of course deaths on racecourses are just one part of the sorry story to be told about commercial racing. Animal Aid’s extensive research over many years has shown that the industry treats horses as commodities. Thousands are killed or dumped every year when they fail to make the grade or when their racing days are over.