Animal Aid


Posted 9 April 2010

The BBC is accused today by national campaign group Animal Aid of continuing its grotesque cover-up of horse deaths at the Grand National meeting. On the second day of the three-day event, three horses perished. Two of the victims broke their necks or backs almost simultaneously at Valentine’s Brook on the Grand National course, while pitted against 27 other horses in the Topham Chase.

They were 8-year-old Prudent Honour and 7-year-old Plaisir D’Estraval. Neither of these inexperienced horses had faced the frightening Grand National fences before.

The third of today’s casualties was Schindlers Hunt, who was reported to have broken a front leg during the John Smith Melling Chase, just 35 minutes earlier.

The first day of the meeting also produced a casualty. Six-year-old mare, Pagan Starprincess, fell at the first obstacle in the 22-runner Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle. A post mortem revealed that she had suffered a head injury, when the shoe from another horse flew off and hit her skull.

With the Grand National itself still to be run tomorrow (Saturday) – along with six other races – the fear is that the current tally of four deaths for the 2010 meeting will increase further. Last year, five horses were killed at the event.

Earlier this week, Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler, wrote to BBC Head Of Sport, Barbara Slater, demanding that deaths at Aintree are not in future glossed over by the BBC television team. He accused the Corporation of ‘fashioning a dishonest, sanitised picture of the Aintree meeting to maximise its earning potential’. The BBC says it distributes footage of the Grand National to more than 140 countries and a worldwide audience of more than 600 million people.

But, true to form, the four deaths during the first two days of this year’s meeting have received scarcely a mention. A protest at the Corporation’s failure to meet its public service obligation will take place outside the main headquarters of the BBC in London tomorrow, from 11.30 am.

Says Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler:

‘The BBC seems to think that it can dispose of the deaths of three horses in the space of 35 minutes, in three or four hastily-uttered sentences. The performance of its Aintree racing commentary team has been callous and cynical. Broken-necked horses lay dying in full view of the cameras and yet they kept up the pretence that all was harmlessly thrilling and exciting. The publicly-funded broadcaster might profit handsomely from marketing its Aintree footage but that is no excuse for its execrable performance.’

More information:

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

Notes to editors:

  • Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Awareness Week – seven days of campaigning and awareness raising – runs from 4-10 April 2010.
  • View our powerful 90-second web film at
  • Of the approximately 18,000 horses bred each year by the closely related British and Irish racing industries, only around 40 per cent go on to race. Many of the ‘low quality’ newborns are destroyed, 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 7,500 race horses leave British racing each year, yet very few go on to a sanctuary or adoptive home.

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