An annual National Hunt race, the so-called ‘Grand National’ in the UK is held at the Aintree racecourse, and is infamous for its dangerous jumps for horses and jockeys. It is a long race, over 4 miles (7km) with jumps which are over 2m high. Forty horses and riders take part.
Annually in the UK more than 400 horses die in racing, or are ‘destroyed’ because of their injuries. Last year my local racecourse had three fatalities.
The Grand National this year was cruelty personified. The favourite to win the race was a horse called Synchronised, which a month ago won the prestigious ‘Gold Cup’ event at Cheltenham. According to The Guardian newspaper;
Synchronised, who was one of the favourites for the race, had been the focus of attention before the race had even begun, as the nine-year-old unseated its jockey on the way to the starting area and galloped loose for several minutes before being retrieved and reunited with his rider. The horse was examined by a vet before being allowed to take part, causing the race to start nearly 10 minutes late, a delay that was further extended by two false starts.
What was poignant is that the horse seemed to know its days were numbered, by unseating its rider before the race began. Another two horses were destroyed during the race and only 15 out of 40 finished. Who knows how many more will be killed because of injuries? This is an annual event, much loved by racegoers and horse-lovers….