FIONA Pereira from Animal Aid is asking Argus readers to withdraw their support from the Grand National by not placing bets on the three-day event (The Argus, April 5, Don’t bet on cruelty).

We are fast approaching what is probably the world’s most notorious race, the Grand National, which is staged every April at Aintree, apart from last year due to the pandemic.

It comprises a dangerously overcrowded field of 40 horses, forced to confront 30 extraordinarily challenging jumps, over a course of almost four and a half miles, invariably amid scenes of chaos and multiple falls. Only around 39 per cent have finished the race in the last ten years.

At the root of the problem is racing’s regulator, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). It is on record by stating that "as with all elite sports and all activities involving horses, there is an element of risk. It is the responsibility of the BHA and everyone involved in the sport to ensure that we do everything possible to minimise that risk and to ensure that no injury or fatality occurs which could reasonably have been prevented".

It is true that following a major review of the Grand National race in 2011, measures introduced from 2013 has made the event "safer", with one fatality. 

It is for readers to decide if this is an acceptable price to pay for their entertainment.

Further, the BHA acknowledges as inevitable that there will continue to be horses killed at British Racecourses. The year 2018 saw a sharp increase with the highest death rate since 2014. Animal Aid believes it is time for the BHA to be replaced with an independent body that would take meaningful action to stop horses from losing their lives and the Grand National should be banned. Do you agree?

David Hammond