Charity warns of safety issues ahead of Grand National Aintree Festival

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.

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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.

Emma added: “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.”


Notes to editors

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 or email

The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act 2004, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021, the strengthened fox hunting laws of the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act 2023 and a ban on the use of snares created by the Agriculture (Wales) Act 2023.

We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage wildlife reserves. Find out more about our work at Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).

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