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JOCKEY CLUB IS TARGETED BY ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS IN BUILD-UP TO BIG RACE
Posted 1 March 2001
This article appeared in The Racing Post, 30 March 2001 as a result of our Horse Racing Awareness Week campaign.
Pressure group Animal Aid delivered its report into the equine casualties of last jumps season to the Jockey Club headquarters in Portman Square yesterday, accompanied by a low-key demonstration.
Animal Aid, whose report is entitled 'Running For Their Lives', will target bookmakers next week - which it has labelled 'Horse Racing Awareness Week' - with a leaflet campaign against the Martell Grand National. It also plans to circulate a chain e-mail, "Ten Reasons To Boycott The Grand National".
The group claims to have unearthed a statistic that one in 31 of the National Hunt horses who competed last year died on or off the course.
After taking receipt of the report, Jockey Club press officer John Maxse said:
"A representative of Animal Aid came in and delivered a copy of its report to reception. It was a low-key presence outside our offices in Portman Square. There was a camera crew from Sky and one or two photographers."
Although Maxse believes Animal Aid's protests to be misdirected, he stressed the Jockey Club is keen for dialogue with welfare groups.
"I have no doubt that Animal Aid's welfare concerns are genuine, but I do believe that horseracing is the wrong target for these sort of protests," he added.
"The report talks about cases of horses who competed in National Hunt racing and which were put down as a result of this, but some of the horses have been put down for reasons which are not exclusive to racing.
"The key message I would like them to be aware of is that there are clearly welfare issues within racing, and the Jockey Club has healthy relationships and open dialogue with experts from animal welfare organisations.
"Racing has a strong and positive message to deliver with regard to horse welfare and we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it."