Animal Aid

Grand National protest outside BBC HQ in London

Posted 7 April 2010

Date: 10 April 2010
Time: 11.30 - 2pm
Location: BBC White City, Wood Lane, London, W12 7RJ

To mark Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Awareness Week, a demonstration will take place outside the main headquarters of the BBC in London to protest against the national broadcaster’s failure to properly report horse deaths at the Grand National.

Between 1999 and 2009, 30 horses have been killed at the three-day Aintree meeting, yet there is scarcely a mention of these fatalities by BBC television’s racing team.

Last year, five horses perished during the event. Hear The Echo collapsed and died close to the finish of the gruelling Grand National itself. Another horse, Exotic Dancer, collapsed and died in an earlier race; two others broke their necks and one was destroyed after breaking his leg.

In a letter to the BBC’s Head of Sport, Barbara Slater, the Director of Animal Aid, Andrew Tyler, wrote:

‘It cannot be said that this level of attrition is of no interest to your viewers or that it is not newsworthy. The failure properly to report these deaths – indeed, to examine the issues underlying them – amounts to concealment and a negation of basic journalistic standards. It is also a betrayal of the horses who suffered and died, and an affront to those many people throughout the country who have a concern for horse welfare.’

The letter ended with a request that if horses die at this year’s Grand National meeting, the BBC’s racing team should pay proper attention to those fatalities and spend time examining the underlying causes.

The demonstration seeks to highlight the issue of horse fatalities at the annual event and to persuade punters not to bet on the race.

Notes to editors:

  • Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Awareness Week begins on Sunday 4 April and reaches its climax on the day of the notorious Grand National race, on 10 April.
  • A dedicated website (www.stopkillinghorses.com) has been specially created, and visitors can view our powerful 90-second viral film, which shows the reality of deaths on British racecourses.
  • 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. Unique research by Animal Aid demonstrates that a horse dies on a British racecourse approximately every other day, typically from a broken limb or neck; severe tendon injuries; spinal injuries; or a heart attack. Around 7,500 British Thoroughbreds leave racing each year, yet very few are properly provided for. Many end up slaughtered for meat.

More information:

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