Animal Aid

AINTREE MEET CLAIMS FIRST EQUINE VICTIM

Posted 4 April 2003
Racing horse

The tradition of horse deaths at the notorious Grand National three-day meet continued yesterday, when Coolnagorna was destroyed after falling and breaking a hind leg in the 5.30 St Austell Brewery Mersey Novice Hurdle Race.

Fifteen runners took part in the 2 miles, 4 furlongs event. Coolnagorna, 'the hot favourite' was just six years old. His death brings to 28 the number of horses who have perished at the Aintree Spring meet since 1997. Four died last year - two in the Grand National itself.

Coolnagorna's death is more evidence of the suffering that is an intrinsic part of the horse racing industry.

BBC PROMISES NO COVER-UP ON ANY GRAND NATIONAL HORSE DEATHS

The BBC's Head of Sport has acknowledged that the Corporation failed to report promptly on the death of two horses in last year's Grand National Aintree race. Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler had written to the Corporation (see letter to Greg Dyke) seeking an assurance that there would be no repeat of last year's broadcast failings. The Corporation effectively avoided any mention of the Saturday fatalities and granted barely a sentence to the earlier deaths.

In his letter to Animal Aid, the BBC's Peter Salmon blames a 'delay in communications' between course spotters and the broadcast control room for the failure to report during more than 40 minutes TV air time the fact - self-evident to any racing expert - that two horses were mortally injured. Nor was there any explicit reporting of the fatalities in the BBC's radio output until after midnight on Radio 4. Mr Salmon has told Animal Aid that a 'new system of radio communications... should ensure greater speed and accuracy' for this year's event.

Notes to Editors

  • New NOP poll shows strong public opposition to Grand National. Despite enjoying massive favourable publicity and a virtual news blackout on horse fatalities, 41% of the public believe the Grand National is cruel to horses. A further 9% of respondents to an Animal Aid-commissioned NOP opinion poll - published Thursday April 3 - were in the 'don't know' camp. Among women, there was a clear majority who regarded the Aintree event as cruel. Since 1997, 28 horses have died during the three-day Grand National meet. Four died last year, two during the National itself. Only 11 out of 40 starters managed to finish the deliberately punishing 30-jump, four-and-a-half mile race. The BBC, in its TV and radio coverage, effectively avoided mention of the Saturday fatalities and granted barely a sentence to the earlier deaths.
  • The NOP poll was commissioned to mark Horse Racing Awareness Week, organised annually by Animal Aid to coincide with the running of the Grand National. Last week the campaign group published a major new investigation - based on industry data and scientific reports - called Riding For A Fall: the genetic time bomb at the heart of racing.
  • For more information call Andrew Tyler or Becky Lilly on 01732 364546.
  • We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality interviews.

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