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NEW POLL SHOWS STRONG PUBLIC OPPOSITION TO GRAND NATIONAL
Posted 2 April 2003
Despite enjoying massive favourable publicity and a virtual news blackout on horse fatalities, 41% of the public believe the Grand National is cruel to horses. A further 9% of respondents to a new NOP opinion poll* felt unable to give the race the all-clear - falling into the 'don't know' camp.
Among women, there was a clear majority who regarded the Aintree event - due to be run on April 5 - as cruel.
The results are hailed by national campaign group, Animal Aid, who commissioned the survey, as clear evidence that the British public is seriously troubled by the suffering caused by the famous event. This is despite the annual torrent of pro-race propaganda, promotional tie-ins with national newspapers and a reluctance by the racing media to acknowledge that equine deaths are a regular Aintree feature.
Since 1997, 27 horses have died during the three-day Grand National meet. Four died last year, two during the National itself. Only 11 out of 40 starters managed to finish the deliberately punishing 30-jump, four-and-a-half mile race.
The BBC, in its TV and radio coverage, effectively avoided mention of the Saturday fatalities and granted barely a sentence to the earlier deaths. Animal Aid has written to Director General, Greg Dyke, asking for an assurance that the BBC will this year give prompt and appropriate coverage to any fatalities.
The NOP poll was commissioned to mark Horse Racing Awareness Week, organised annually by Animal Aid to coincide with the running of the Grand National. Last week the campaign group published a major new report called Riding for a Fall: the genetic time bomb at the heart of racing.
*Fieldwork was conducted by NOP Research between March 6 and 11. 1042 adults were asked: "People disagree as to whether the Grand National horse race is cruel to the horses. Do you personally think the Grand National is, or is not cruel to horses?" Results: CRUEL: 41% (50% female; 31% male). NOT CRUEL: 50% (43% female; 58% male). DON'T KNOW: 9% (7% female; 11% male)
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