Home » The Grand National is already under fire and it’s not even started yet

The Grand National is already under fire and it’s not even started yet

National animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports says “one death is one too many” ahead of the Randox Grand National Festival – at which 63 horses have died in the past 23 years.

The death toll includes 16 horses which died during the running of the notorious Grand National race itself. Last year Hill Sixteen was destroyed after suffering a broken neck at the first fence.

A ‘shocking number of deaths’ at the Grand National

Emma Judd, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

The shocking number of deaths at the Grand National Festival begs the question as to whether the current horse racing authorities have their house in order when it comes to safety of horses and their jockeys.

A new independent regulatory body with horse welfare as its number one priority needs to be created.

Horses are being sacrificed for people’s entertainment and gambling, and one death is one too many.

The League is also campaigning for the use of the whip to be banned in horse racing, because it causes pain, and pushes tired horses beyond their limits.

An Early Day Motion in 2020 calling on the government to ensure the British Horse Racing Authority banned the use of the whip for ‘encouragement’ was signed by 96 MPs, but no moves have been made to introduce a ban.

A British Horseracing Authority consultation on whips bowed to pressure within the industry and constantly vacillated over the number of times a whip could be used in a race, while failing completely to ban it.

Horseracing kills a horse every three days

It’s not just the Grand National that’s a problem. As the Canary previously reported, Animal Aid launched its website Race Horse Death Watch during the 2007 Cheltenham Festival. In the 6,239 days since then, it has recorded 2,773 deaths as a result of racing events.

However, Animal Aid states on the website that it believes this number is 30% lower than the true figure.

That number isn’t evenly spread throughout the year, either. The racing season lasts approximately nine months, between March and November – so deaths are concentrated in this period.

Animal Welfare Watch told the Canary:

Sadly racehorse fatalities happen almost daily on the UK tracks and the government continually fails to act despite giving the BHA [British Horseracing Authority] a period of time in which to get their house in order back in 2018 – nothing has happened and that is because the BHA are self governing and this needs to change immediately.

Judd added of the Grand National:

Animals are being beaten to influence the outcome of the contest – in what other sport or public spectacle would this form of cruelty play an integral role in influencing the result?

Urgent steps need to be taken to end the use of the whip for ‘encouragement’ in horse racing as this callous disregard for the welfare of the horse has no place in a caring animal loving Britain.

Featured image via ITV Racing – YouTube