Saturday, April 10, 2010

Grand National - sport or big profits on the backs of the death of horses?

This is reposted from last year :

Its the race when those who never normally go near a bookies have a flutter. Well its a bit of fun isn't it? Well no :

The 2009 Grand National meeting claimed its fifth victim today (April 4) when Hear The Echo collapsed and died at the end of Saturday’s big race. Not since 1997 – when six horses perished – have more horses been killed at the three-day Aintree meeting.

Just 17 of the 40 Thoroughbreds entered into the four-and-a-half mile Grand National finished the race. Hear The Echo collapsed in the run-in and, despite oxygen being administered, he died. Butler’s Cabin also collapsed and required oxygen. At several other races he has had to be revived in this way.

Hear The Echo was just 8-years-old and was having his first race in Britain. His other 22 events were in Ireland.

The three-day meeting got off to a predictably grim start on Thursday, with two deaths and at least two near misses. One of the casualties was the highly-rated Exotic Dancer. The other was Mel In Blue – a horse with a track record at the other end of the ratings scale. Exotic Dancer finished second in his race but, soon after, suffered a fatal heart attack. Mel In Blue was riding in the Foxhunters’ Chase, run over the Grand National course, when he broke his neck after falling at the supposedly much safer Becher’s Brook,
Two more horses were killed the following day (Friday). Moscow Catch died after a heavy fall that appeared to break his neck, and Lilla Sophia, who was four-years-old and had raced only three times before, was destroyed after breaking a leg.

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:

‘Racing industry figures repeatedly claim that Aintree is not the threat to horses' lives that it was even in recent years, and yet deaths at the meeting continue to be routine. Last year, three perished, while the carnage this year exceeds anything seen at Aintree since 1997. The Grand National is appallingly cruel and deliberately so. It degrades all those responsible for staging and promoting it. The fatalities that so routinely occur are not accidents, they are entirely predictable, even though the racing industry tries to look the other way and plead innocence.’

The deaths of three horses at Britain's Grand National race meeting within 35 minutes has seen the BBC come under fire from an animal welfare group over its coverage.

Animal Aid accused the broadcaster of "continuing its grotesque cover-up of horse deaths at the Grand National meeting".

The charity was commenting as it prepared to protest outside Aintree in the lead-up to this weekend's Grand National Steeplechase.

On Friday, the second day of the three-day meeting, 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 eight-year-old Prudent Honour and seven-year-old Plaisir D'Estraval. Neither had run over the Grand National fences before, the group said.

The third casualty 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. A six-year-old mare, Pagan Starprincess, fell at the first obstacle in the 22-runner Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle. She is believed to have suffered fatal spinal injuries.

Animal Aid said it feared that Saturday's seven races, including the Grand National Steeplechase, would see the current tally of four deaths for the 2010 meeting increase further.

Last year, five horses were killed at the three-day 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 its television team.

He accused the BBC of "fashioning a dishonest, sanitised picture of the Aintree meeting to maximise its earning potential".