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The Grand Debate

The time has arisen again for the greatest sporting spectacular to take place- The Grand National. And whilst this remains an area of contention between horse people, this also brings non-horsey people into the debate with thousands of viewers (actually an estimated 500-600 million people across 140 countries!) The Grand National is mega money with £561,300 going to the winners alone! Not only is this race prestigious but also popular across the nation.

This morning, I walked into the bakers to see local people putting together a sweepstake for the national. I had on my yard attire and found that people began apologising to me. “Sorry, we are just betting on the national.” This caught me off guard, yes I have my opinions on the national but for non-horsey people to just assume I would be offended by it got me thinking. They obviously are aware that it is potentially upsetting to anyone remotely involved with a horse. For someone who loves animals I find it hard to comprehend how you could set an animal up for harm, especially animals which are so expensive and not only that, but have a right to life.

For me, the Grand National is a total speculation of human greed. How our fundamental morals are thrown aside in the name of wealth. Am I against horse racing? Not at all. Those horses are bred to run and thrive on the thrill. Have you ever seen or experienced a thoroughbred on a race track at full speed? I won’t be told that a 50kg jockey will force a 500kg racehorse to run, the horse wants to run.

What I do disagree with is factors which in my opinion makes this race unsafe. The stats speak for themselves:

However, measures are being taken to improve safety measures in this race. On the Grand National’s website they have issued an article on how they are improving safety measures. For me, they place a lot of emphasis on how many horses died in the race, not including within their stats the numbers that fell and died as a result of their injuries- although in their words they “took a tumble”.

One measure taken to improve safety is by reducing the distance ever so slightly (like really remotely). Within this same article they have contradicted themselves, blaming mistakes and falls on “40 revved-up horses at the start”- surely by decreasing numbers, the incidence of accidents would be decreased by decreasing the field size, not rocket science! Although, credit where credit is due, there has been leveling of the landing side of “certain key fences” (not all though). I found that by going on the official Grand National’s website I actually feel more opposed to the race than I did before! Surely they should be spewing some propaganda to make me think differently.

I fully understand why people love this race, there is so much money behind it and aside from that, the athleticism of horse and jockey is just spectacular. However, history has shown how this race goes. And still, trainers and owners continue to put horses and jockeys at risk by running them in it. And still, media coverage increases. And still, the wealth of the race increases. It goes on. Should this race be abolished? No. Could it be made safer? Definitely. There are plenty of alterations which could be make to the race whilst still holding a degree of difficulty and excitement.


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