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BOOKIES TARGETED BY ANIMAL RIGHTS PROTESTERS
Posted 1 March 2001
This article appeared in The Racing Post, 28 March 2001 as a result of our Horse Racing Awareness Week campaign.
Bookmakers have become the prime target of animal rights activists' attempts to disrupt this year's Martell Grand National through a campaign aimed at betting shop and internet punters.
Animal Aid is co-ordinating protests and leaflet distribution outside betting premises, and plans to flood the internet with a 'chain' email for what it has dubbed "Horse Racing Awareness Week". The email entitled "Ten Reasons to Boycott the Grand National" will be sent to thousands of potential punters who will be urged to forward it to at least five other people. Leaflets bearing the slogan "Cruelty-You Can Bet On It" will be issued before the big race.
Although the protests are expected to be peaceful, police at Scotland Yard have warned bookmakers through BOLA to be on their guard.
Animal Aid claims to have unearthed statistics that one in 31 National Hunt horses who competed last year died on or off the course.
Campaign co-ordinator Yvonne Taylor said:
"Our new report puts figures to the brutal reality of National Hunt racing. Over the next seven days computer users will learn the truth about the Grand National-and 100,000 leaflets will be distributed by activists in a concerted effort to undercut support for this ugly spectacle."
At last year's Grand National meeting five horses died-four of them on the opening day, but none on the day of the big race. Horse welfare procedures at the meeting are continually reviewed in consultation with leading veterinary surgeons, the RSPCA and the International League for the Protection of Horses, to ensure injuries are kept to a minimum.
Jockey Club spokesman John Maxse said:
"Horses are susceptible to injury at all times, whether grazing in a field or out at exercise.
"Without racing, thousands of horses would not be able to enjoy a quality of life which exceeds that available to every other domestic animal in this country. Most people get involved in the sport through love of horses and we need them to talk in a positive manner on the issue, otherwise people might think that racing has something to hide, which it doesn't."
Bookmakers brushed aside the e-mail threat. Coral Eurobet PR director Simon Clare said:
"People who bet already are not going to be deterred by a viral email. Its impact would be negligible."