Grand National improvements not enough
Improvements are welcome but Aintree owners must go further, according to League Against Cruel Sports
Widespread public outcry at the death of two horses at the Grand National in April has forced the racecourse owners to make improvements to the track. The changes – which include a reduction of five inches in the drop of the infamous Becher’s Brook – have been announced today by Aintree’s managing director, Julian Thick.
Mr Thick told the BBC: “It is impossible to completely eliminate risk in horse racing”. But animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports has accused Thick of seeking to excuse cruelty.
“These changes to the track at Aintree are a token gesture to the millions of people who were outraged by the two deaths at this year’s National,” said Joe Duckworth, the League’s chief executive. “It’s an attempt at PR but is in reality an attempt at excusing cruelty. Token changes aren’t good enough; Aintree needs to go much further to ensure that the death count of twenty in the last eleven years doesn’t rise further next year.”
Polling by YouGov found that that more than two thirds (68%) of people in Britain think the Grand National course should be altered in some way to improve safety. When told that fifteen horses had died taking part in the Grand National over the last sixteen years 53% said they thought the jumps should be lowered on the course. 33% and 30% respectively think there should be fewer horses taking part and fewer jumps, while 22% think the course itself should be shortened.
“We’d like to be proved wrong, but fear that next April will see more carnage at the National,” added Mr Duckworth.