The Grand National: our response to the racing industry

Animal Aid has, for many years, called for the Grand National to be banned. It is a deliberately hazardous race.

Following the deaths of two horses in the 2011 Grand National, which were accidentally screened on live television, there was a fresh outpouring of anger that this sick spectacle is allowed to continue.

Since that time more horses have been killed in the race in the most horrific circumstances.

Defenders of the race peddle a variety of myths in their attempts to justify it:

If the horses didn’t like it, they wouldn’t carry on running after their jockeys fall off
Horses are herd animals. They feel safer when part of a group, especially in the noisy, often unfamiliar race day environment.

The horses enjoy the challenge
They are not equal to the challenge. The modern industry concentrates on breeding lighter-boned, speedier animals for Flat racing. Less successful Flat racers, or those good at clearing fences, are consigned to jump racing. But, because they are fine-tuned for speed rather than skeletal strength, they risk fatal injury when they fall – a common occurrence at Aintree.

The horses are treated like kings
Evidence suggests that, for many years, thousands of horses who don’t pay their way have been slaughtered or killed in their yards.

Horses in the wild die too – death is natural
There is nothing natural about whipping highly inbred horses to force them to run to their physical limit and jump a series of life-threatening obstacles.

Because Aintree and the industry as a whole make a concerted effort to conceal news of equine fatalities, Animal Aid is making that information public. Our online database, Race Horse Deathwatch, was established in March 2007 and lists horses who die on all of Britain’s 60 racecourses. It is this data that is now heavily relied upon by the media.

Our annual Horse Racing Awareness Week takes place in the seven days leading up to the country’s most famous race. We stage a series of high-profile media events to highlight the suffering involved in horse racing.

Please get involved with our campaign to Ban the Grand National and Horse Racing Awareness Week.

Return to the Grand National campaign page