Grand National should be suspended until horseracing is safer, says charity
Posted 4th April 2019
The call is being made following figures released by the BHA that show the number of horse deaths on racecourses have reached a six-year high. In 2018 alone, 201 horses lost their lives during competitive races, but the League says just one death would be one death too many.
Due to take place at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool on Saturday [April 06], the Grand National is one of the most arduous race on the National Hunt calendar.
Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns for the League Against Cruel Sports, said:
“National Hunt Racing is a hugely popular sport with the public, but this comes at a cost. We’ve all seen the hastily-erected screens around the fallen animals, and experienced the heartbreak that goes with it.
“With an average of nearly 200 horses dying on race tracks across Britain every year it’s clear that racing needs to give horse welfare the priority, especially for the racing calendar’s most arduous event, the Grand National.”
The League says that for the race to be run more safely the BHA should look at reducing the size of the field, the length of the race should be reduced, and all drops on the landing side of the fences should be removed - not just on the notorious Becher’s Brook jump.
With the eyes of the racing public around the world turned towards Aintree it is time to insist the racecourse and British Horseracing Authority (BHA) introduce these measures or to suspend the race entirely if they can’t be implemented.
“At the end of last year the British public sent a clear message to the government and the BHA via a 10,000-signature petition that horse racing should be made safer, including a call for an independent body to be set up with welfare at its heart.
“While a so-called Horse Welfare Board has been set up in response to this, there is little information about what its activities will be – but what is clear is that it falls well short of the regulatory board we and others have been calling for.
“It should be horse safety, not a public relations exercise, that is really its priority.”
The Grand National is the biggest race of the three-day Aintree Festival calendar, which begins tomorrow [Thursday].
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Notes to editors
- Information is available at https://www.britishhorseracing.com/regulation/making-horseracing-safer/, via https://www.horsedeathwatch.com/ and for the Grand National at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_equine_fatalities_in_the_Grand_National