RSPCA urged to prosecute Grand National organisers for animal cruelty

Posted on the 7th April 2001

Animal Aid is today calling upon the RSPCA to instigate a prosecution of the organisers of the 2001 Grand National meet under the 1911 Protection of Animals Act – a statute that is intended to prevent animals from undergoing ‘unnecessary suffering’.

The Grand National itself, run in the heaviest and draining of conditions, resulted in 36 out of 40 runners failing to finish the race. On Thursday and Friday, 38 of 51 horses racing over the same course failed to complete it.

To run today’s event in even wetter conditions was insane. The whole spectacle was a disgrace and anything but ‘sporting’. It brought shame on Britain as a nation of so-called animal lovers.

The Grand National horses were already clearly exhausted, falling heavily and careering into each other before the first of two circuits had been completed. The organisers have announced that there were no fatalities on the day. But in the weeks and months to come, experience tells us, some of the fallen animals will be disposed of once it’s clear that their money-making days are over.

The RSPCA’s equine consultant, David Muir, described the death at Aintree yesterday of The Outback Way – ignored by most of the media – as ‘a most unusual accident and could never have been predicted.’ We urge the RSPCA to stop making excuses for the Aintree event and call for a ban. Death and injury during the three-day Aintree meet are both predictable and routine.

The Outback Way was just the latest in a constant procession of equine victims of National Hunt racing. Last week (March 29), Animal Aid published a report called Running for Their Lives. This reveals that no fewer than 247 horses were raced to their deaths in the name of entertainment during last year’s National Hunt season – that’s one horse dead for every 31 who participated.

Today’s events remind us that there is no such thing as a ‘harmless flutter’ on the horses.

Notes to Editors

  • For more information on Horse Racing Awareness Week contact Yvonne Taylor or Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546.
  • To view the new report, the leaflet and full background notes visit the Animal Aid website.
  • We have an ISDN line for Broadcast-quality interviews.

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