Animal Aid

Animal Aid brands the Grand National a 'sick oddity'

Posted 26 March 2009

Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Awareness Week begins this Sunday – 29 March – and reaches its climax on the day of the notorious Grand National race, on 4 April.

The Grand National is the main race of a three-day meeting at Aintree that killed 30 horses between 1998 and 2008. It is a deliberately punishing and hazardous event: longer than any other (four and a half miles) and presenting 30 uniquely high and challenging obstacles. It features perilous drops, ditches and sharp turns. Forty horses usually take part. Only one-third are likely to finish.

Supporters of the national campaign group have already distributed tens of thousands of a new anti-Grand National leaflet that asks punters to withhold their betting money and attendance fees. The leafleting is now being stepped up.

Many people are unaware that, when they have a ‘harmless flutter’, they are helping to fund an industry that races to death around 420 horses each year. Some 38% of these fatalities occur during, or immediately after, a race and result from a broken leg, back, neck or pelvis; fatal spinal injuries; exhaustion; heart attack; or burst blood vessels. Additionally, thousands more unprofitable Thoroughbreds are shot in their yards or are killed at abattoirs – their meat destined for human consumption abroad.

Protests and leafleting events are due to take place throughout Horse Racing Awareness Week, and Animal Aid supporters will be amongst those demonstrating at Aintree on Saturday 4 April.

Says Andrew Tyler, Director of Animal Aid:

‘People with a genuine interest in horse welfare find watching the Grand National a painful and distressing experience. Throughout the race, horses are crashing to the ground. Some do somersaults and land on their necks. Death and serious injury are routine. If one-third finish that’s a “result”. As race horse welfare continues to move up the news agenda, the Grand National can be seen more clearly for what it is: a perverse and sick oddity that causes enormous unnecessary suffering to the conscripted horses, and which should long ago have been banned.’

Notes to editors:

  • Of the approximately 18,000 horses bred each year by the closely related British and Irish racing industries, only around 40% go on to race. Many of the uncommercial animals end up slaughtered for meat, while those who do enter racing suffer a high level of fatal injuries and stress-related illnesses, such as gastric ulcers and bleeding lungs. Around 6,000 British Thoroughbreds leave racing each year, yet very few are properly provided for when racing ends.
  • View our powerful 90-second web film
  • View our undercover footage of horse slaughter

More information:

  • For full background and interviews, contact Andrew Tyler or Dene Stansall on 01732 364546.
  • ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.
  • Images are available on request.

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