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Animal Aid slams Grand National
Posted 5 April 2005
Aintree revealed as Britain's second deadliest racecourse
Aintree racecourse is under the spotlight this week as protestors across the country demonstrate outside betting shops and in high streets as part of Animal Aid's Horse Racing Awareness Week. The Merseyside course - exposed in a major new report by the national campaign group as Britain's second deadliest - is due to stage the punishing Grand National on Saturday April 9.
Animal Aid's This Unsporting Life report reveals that around 375 horses are raced to death every year in Britain. Approximately 30 per cent will die on course. The remainder may be killed after incurring injuries in training or because their owners consider them to be no longer commercially viable. Aintree saw eight horse deaths over the 25 racing days surveyed. It was topped in the Death League only by Cheltenham (21 deaths from 54 days' racing). Amazingly, both courses are run by the industry's own regulatory body, the Jockey Club.
Says Andrew Tyler, Director of Animal Aid:
"The Grand National is, by design, a hazardous course that routinely results in horses dying. Such suffering is both predictable and unnecessary. Many people around the world are amazed that such a punishing race is still permitted in a country that boasts high animal welfare standards. The time has come to dump it in the dustbin of history, along with hunting and cock fighting."
The horse racing industry has always concealed from the public, and even from racing correspondents, the number of horses killed annually. To compile its new survey, Animal Aid studied more than 15,000 pages of race data. The resulting report is the most comprehensive analysis of Thoroughbred racing fatalities ever to have been made public.
The Jockey Club has issued statements disputing Animal Aid's figures. However, the campaign group is confident that its statistics are accurate, and challenges the Jockey Club to publish its own data on horse deaths. It asks it to name - as Animal Aid has done - the animal victims and to specify on which course they died; or whether they died or were destroyed off course.