Animal Aid

Grand National: Call for 2006 race to be the last

Posted 4 April 2006

Animal Aid will be carrying its anti-Grand National message through the streets of Liverpool and to the gates of the racecourse itself throughout the three-day Aintree horse racing meeting, which begins on Thursday. Giant hoardings on a mobile campaign van will feature images of horses crashing to the ground and declare '375 horses raced to death every year' on one side of the vehicle, and 'Cruelty. You can bet on it.' on the other.

The Grand National is Britain's longest horse race - covering a distance of four miles and 856 yards. The horses are required to jump 30 formidable obstacles, some of which include perilous drops, ditches and sharp turns. Forty horses usually take part - an excessively crowded field, which adds to the risk of collisions and falls.

No fewer than 30 horses have perished at the three-day Grand National meeting since 1997 - some on Aintree's Mildmay and Hurdle courses, both of which are dangerously fast.

The seven days leading up to the Grand National is Animal Aid's Horse Racing Awareness Week (HRAW). As well as the protests at Aintree - HRAW demos and leafleting will take place outside betting shops across the country. The group has also launched an internet viral campaign alerting the public to the cruelty and exploitative nature of the racing industry.

Following the carnage at the recent Cheltenham Festival - when nine horses died - the group sent a briefing to every MP. It was the opening salvo in a campaign to get horse racing firmly onto the political agenda.

Animal Aid research shows that Cheltenham is the most lethal racecourse in the country, with Aintree a close second. Both courses are owned by the Jockey Club, which - until April 3 - was racing's own regulatory body.

Says Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler:

'The Grand National is a perversely cruel spectacle that routinely takes the lives of horses. They break their legs and necks, and suffer heart attacks. Modern Thoroughbreds are bred for more and more speed, at the expense of skeletal strength. This means that, when asked to cover a deliberately hazardous course like Aintree's, their lives are on the line. It is time to put an end to this ugly business.'

Mobile billboard takes message to the streets

A truck-mounted billboard depicting racing falls will drive around Liverpool for the three days of the National Hunt meeting, targeting punters on the way to the Grand National. The billboard displays the text '375 horses raced to death every year' and 'Cruelty. You can bet on it.'

Grand National protest

Animal Aid and FAACE protestors will be outside the main gates of Aintree on Thursday 6 April. A huge banner reading '375 horses raced to death every year' will be displayed.

  • For further information or to arrange an interview, please call Chris Anderson on 01732 364546.
  • ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.

Notes to Editors

An Animal Aid study of available evidence - including 15,000 pages of race results - shows that around 375 horses are raced to death every year. Some 30% of these fatalities occur during, or immediately after a race, and result from a broken leg, back, neck or pelvis; fatal spinal injuries; exhaustion; heart attack, or burst blood vessels. The other victims perish from training injuries or are killed after being assessed by their owners as no-hopers.

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