Two horses killed at Aintree: Grand National ‘equivalent to Spanish bullfighting’

Posted on the 9th April 2011

The Grand National continued its tradition of killing horses today when Ornais broke his neck and Dooneys Gate broke his back in the gruelling 4 and a half mile event. Their deaths mean that 20 horses have now perished on the Grand National course since 2000.

Just 19 of the 40 starters finished the race, while the winner, Ballabriggs, came close to collapse from dehydration on what was a punishingly hot day.

As in previous years, horses somersaulted and crashed to the ground, landing on their heads, necks and backs. Several horses were pulled up and Animal Aid has concerns about whether any of those have suffered serious injury that could result in their subsequent destruction. On Thursday, Inventor was destroyed after breaking a leg in a hurdle race at the three-day Aintree meeting.

Says Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler:

‘When horses are killed at the Grand National meeting, their deaths are not accidents but entirely predictable. The public has been conned into believing that the Grand National is a great sporting spectacle when, in reality, it is straightforward animal abuse that is on a par with Spanish bullfighting. This race should have no future in a civilised country. The BBC deserves special condemnation for all but concealing news of the deaths. In fact, one of its commentary team described the dead horses as they lay on the course as ‘obstacles’ – which was particularly disgusting and callous.’

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 3-9 April 2011.
  • View our powerful 90-second web film at
  • Of the approximately18,000 horses who have been bred annually in recent years 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 thoroughbreds have been leaving British racing each year, yet very few go on to a sanctuary or adoptive home.

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