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THE WORLD'S GREATEST STEEPLECHASE?
Posted 1 April 2001
Animal Aid's letter to the press, April 2001.
Dear Letters Editor
The world's greatest steeplechase?
The world's greatest steeplechase? The scenes during Saturday's Grand National, of exhausted horses falling heavily and careering into each other, illustrated only too well the willingness of racing's governing bodies to gamble with the lives of both horses and jockeys.
But don't take my word for it. Let's have the 'experts' impressions, of a race described by Aintree officials as 'an exciting and thrilling spectacle'.
'This wasn't a great race, it was an entirely predictable unfolding of accident and agony.' Alastair Down, Racing Post.
'It was a desperate occasion for a desperate sport, which has ignored its conscience and concentrated on its fast-emptying coffers.' The Mail on Sunday.
'We shouldn't have raced really. I have never run in worse conditions. We were lucky to get away with it.' Richard Guest, the winning jockey.
The decision to run the race had nothing to do with courage, endurance or bravery. It had everything to do with money, arrogance and indifference to the perils facing those sent to face the 30 jumps. Organisers have announced that there were no fatalities on the day. But in the weeks and months to come, experience tells us, some of the fallen animals will be disposed of once it's clear that their money making days are over. Our recently published report Running for their Lives, reveals that no fewer than 247 horses were raced to death during the 1999/2000 National Hunt season - that's one dead horse in 31 who raced.
Last year, Animal Aid launched Horse Racing Awareness Week with the intention of alerting the public to the real consequence of their 'harmless flutter'. I can honestly say that Saturday's shambolic scenes will have said more to the public about the industry's callous disregard towards animal welfare than the 100,000 leaflets distributed by Animal Aid this year ever could.