Injury and death – the only sure bet at Aintree

The League Against Cruel Sports are calling on members of the public to abstain from betting on this year’s Grand National after race officials failed to make any significant changes to improve horse safety.

Ahead of the annual meet, which gets underway tomorrow, the League is urging people to think twice before placing bets. The charity is warning that until horse welfare is put above profit, entertainment and ‘sport’, horses will continue to suffer and die on race-courses including Aintree.

Six horses died during last year’s three day festival, four on the Grand National course and two racing on Aintree’s Mildmay course. Since 2000, 48 horses have been killed during the highly lucrative meet.

Eduardo Gonçalves, CEO of the League Against Cruel Sports said:

“There’ll be a sense of disappointment all over the UK on Saturday when those millions of people who have made their annual bet on the National realise their horse didn’t make it to the end. They will have however only lost a few quid – for some horses it will cost them their lives.

“We urge animal-lovers to take a step back from all the hype and think about what they are actually betting on. The horses that make it to the end of the race will be the lucky ones. Sadly, there are those who will lose out and end up in a hastily erected white tent at the bottom of a jump.

Until race organisers get the message that cruelty will no longer be tolerated, the safety and welfare of the horses and jockeys will not be a priority and more injuries and fatalities will sadly be inevitable.”

Legs of a falling horse during a race.

The League continues to call for the abolition of the Aintree Grand National
until a number of welfare improvements have been implemented. These include a reduction in the number of riders in any race from 40 to a maximum of 30; a ban on the use of the whip; the removal of the dangerous Becher’s Brook jump; and for all drops on the landing side of fences to be removed.

As television coverage of the festival switches to ITV this year, bookmakers have estimated £250million will be wagered on the upcoming steeplechase.

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