Grand National remains racing’s biggest shame

Posted on the 7th April 2022

The Grand National remains a huge stain on the world of horse racing. Its ability to kill horses is ever present as the 2022 race looms.

The upcoming 2022 event will have, as always, a brutal revelry that shatters horses’ lives in an instant, as seen in the 2021 event when The Long Mile’s near-hind leg snapped after jumping the infamous Becher’s Brook fence. His life was lost, destroyed on the Aintree turf, and added to a long list of victims that date back into a history that sullies any relationship that horses and humans may share.

The demanding four-and-a-quarter miles of a full-on gallop and the confronting of 30 daunting obstacles – many designed to blatantly catch horses out – holds no favours for its 40 equine participants; the dangers are ever present throughout their every stride.

In an age of change, the Grand National is lagging behind. A ban on this race would be a major step forward for the rights and welfare of horses.

What is the Grand National?

The Grand National has been staged under various names almost every year since its inception in 1839. It is held at Aintree in Liverpool and is run over a stamina-sapping distance of four-and-a-quarter miles on a roughly triangular-shaped course. The course comprises 16 fences, 14 of which are jumped twice. This means that the set number of 40 competing horses are confronted by a total of 30 fences.

What are some of these most important problems with the Grand National?

  • Too many demanding fences – 30 in all – have to be jumped
  • Unusual and awkward fences catch horses out
  • There are concerns about the horses’ abilities and experience, and the demands made upon them
  • The crowded field of 40 runners causes death and injury
  • The extreme distance – four-and-a-quarter miles – makes it the longest in Thoroughbred National Hunt (jump) racing

How many horses have died in the Grand National meeting?

Since the year 2000, 55 horses have died during this meeting. Animal Aid have compiled a list of these horses.

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