Two more horses die

 

         I did not watch the Grand National. I saw some of the events on the TV news later. Surely it is time to change the course and the race so that the safety of horses is looked after?

          No-one would find it acceptable if a couple of drivers died in every Grand Prix car race. Formula One has responded to driver and spectator worries about past fatalities of drivers by making the circuits safer and improving the safety of the cars. We can now enjoy Formula One racing  in the knowledge that the death of a driver is extremely unlikely, even in a  bad crash.  

          So how can we enjoy a race which has led to the death of  two horses in 2011 and another two fine horses in 2012?  I am not suggesting legislators should ban the race, but I am suggesting all those in the racing industry should recognise that there is now a very strong feeling amongst many of us that the injury and death rate is unacceptably high. It is time the racing authorities took sufficient action, as Formula One seems to have done.

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69 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted April 15, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Riding horses even just show jumping are, statistically, very, very dangerous for both riders and horses. But then riders unlike horses do have a free choice I suppose.

    Reply: Indeed they do, and if they break a bone they are not shot.

  2. Freeborn John
    Posted April 15, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    The current death-rate is totally unacceptable which was reported yesterday as 22 horses in the last 10 years. I would suggest legislation has a place and that those in charge of Aintree should be held criminally responsible for the death of any horses in the future, just as they would if running a blood-sport. Currently we same the same thing very year where the Aintree organisers try to kick the issue into the long grass, promising minor changes to the design of the course until the outcry dies down. Then they do very little if anything and the same carnage happens the following year. If these men, who are making late sums out this famous race, knew that they could go to prison for maltreating defenceless creatures then I am sure the annual equine death rate would drop to zero.

  3. AJC
    Posted April 15, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Do they (horse) race over jumps in Bahrain?

  4. Nick
    Posted April 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Why do I have images of horses racing in crash helmets?

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 16, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Nick
      I have no idea, because they usually break legs !

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        Very funny.

        Indeed putting the horses in crash helmets it might just make the horses feel invincible and result in even more broken legs.

        It seems to do this with most extreme cyclists in London as they ignore all the red traffic lights and career round along the pavements shouting abuse at all in their way. I notice.

    • Bernard JUBY
      Posted April 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      No idea! You can still break bones wearing a seat-belt BUT if yoiu break a leg and you are a horse it won’t heal so you are shot to put you out of your misery/pain.

      Try looking at the shambles of the start. Why is the race run by what appear to be a bunch of amateurs? Does it matter so much if one horse is fractionally ahead of another at the approach to the start. A line on the ground would be just as effective and wouldn’t spook the horses as a tape can. After all they have another two & a half miles to run over the sticks. Any-one who rides knows just how easily a horse can be spooked.

  5. Keef Rebecca
    Posted April 15, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    There are certain times when one has to call out the hypocrisy of politicians. This is one of them. The horse racing industry may not be subsidized by the taxpayer – it is, however, subsidized by taxes. Bookmakers are legally required to pay a levy towards British Horseracing. Horseracing prizes are drawn from that levy. That levy is sanctioned by Parliament. And so, dead horses are sanctioned by Parliament. Mr Redwood, if you seek less dead horses, then vote against the horseracing levy. Mr Redwood: why does horse racing deserve a state subsidy?

    Here we have a state sanctioned sport that kills dozens of horses annually. It is televised by the state broadcaster – BBC this year, Channel 4 next year. Seriously, Mr Redwood: you feel uncomfortable with this state funded, state broadcast sport, then why don’t YOU do something. Or is being an MP a meaningless joke?

  6. John Eustace
    Posted April 15, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I agree completely. If I were an owner I could never enter my horse in the National. But remember also that five horses died at Cheltenham this year so it is not just an issue for Aintree.

  7. merlin
    Posted April 15, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    First of all , horseracing is basically a cruel sport both flat and national hunt racing, horses are regularily extended to their absolute limit to satisfy large number of people who bet on horses. This activity is historical and is unlikely to be banned in the near future. Having lived near the course for many years and attended many Grand Nationals, I have only recently become aware of the fatalities regarding this particular meeting.I can remember in the days of Red Rum for instance there being no horses killed and the fences being very much higher. I listened to Bob Champion being interviewed today suggesting that it is the speed of the race that is causing the deaths at Aintree and agreeing with me that when the fences were higher there were less horses killed. Horseracing is here to stay and my response, after careful consideration is leave the Grand National alone. I think, already there have been significant changes to many aspects of this annual event, ultimately if further drastic changes are made then it will eventually resemble just an ordinary event and may lose its attractiveness as the greatest steeplechase in the world.One of the reasons that I am a conservative is that I wish people would stop trying to alter things that have worked for hundreds if not thousands of years. I know it’s a cliche but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, being a pessimist by nature this time next year they will have lowered some of the fences in the Grand National-my view they shouldn’t.

  8. zorro
    Posted April 15, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    No chance of that while our soldiers are dying needlessly in Afghanistan….

    zorro

  9. Sheumais
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    If you take so little interest in one of the country’s major sporting events that you didn’t bother watching it, it would seem more sensible to keep your opinion about how it should be run to yourself. There is no comparison between men racing in an enclosed machine and tired horses jumping in groups over large fences and it is ludicrous to attempt to make one.

    • Susan
      Posted April 16, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Sheumais,

      Are you really saying that in what is supposed to be a free society, someone is not entitled to have an opinion on horse racing just because they choose not to watch it.

      In a civilised society we should not want harm to come to humans or animals in the name of spectator sport, so racing driving and horse racing are akin in this respect.

      What an utterly ridiculous point of view.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted April 16, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        I doubt that the animal will be making the distinction whether it is suffering its death agonies on a race course or a lingering death in a cage on a factory farm. The mental suffering of the moraliser in a “civilised society” is more important than the animal?
        All animals should be treated as humanely as possible and particular thought given to those that end up in shrink wrapped packages on supermarket shelves having been slaughtered using Halal or Kosher methods.

      • Sheumais
        Posted April 16, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        If I had wanted to say that, I am perfectly capable of doing so.

        If what I said does need interpretation, I will try to make it simple enough for you, people who take so little interest in things shouldn’t interfere in how they happen. Got it?

        I wouldn’t tell anyone how to run a sport if I had no interest in it and would heartily resent any politician sticking his beak into something he doesn’t understand. It has absolutely nothing to do with freedom of speech whatsoever, so keep your hysteria for things you do understand.

        • lifelogic
          Posted April 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

          You may well “heartily resent any politician sticking his beak into something he doesn’t understand” – but they what would most of them do it they were all stopped from doing just that?

      • Sheumais
        Posted April 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        No, I am not saying that. Had I wished to, I would have.

        In a civilised society, people would address issues in public they know sufficient about to make an informed comment. Neither you nor John Redwood are sufficiently well-informed about horse racing or safety in motor sport.

        • Susan
          Posted April 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

          Sheumais,

          You may be living in the wrong Country, because freedom of speech exists in the UK and Mr Redwood, lifelogic and I will use it if we choose on our terms not yours. In your words ” Got it”.

    • James Sutherland
      Posted April 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      I’ve never been fox-hunting, either, but I know I don’t like it. Ditto other forms of animal cruelty. If as you suggest horse racing can’t be made as safe as other forms of racing, perhaps it should no longer be tolerated?

      Another poster notes that at least one other developed country, Australia, has banned this activity – surely time to follow their example.

  10. Max Dunbar
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    It seems a bit strange to compare the life of a horse with that of a human. Are you not taking sentimentality and anthropomorphism too far? The horses are bred to race and, sadly, to die. Lets keep things in proportion and not go down the “animal rights path” too hastily. This is a famous race and draws much attention. There are millions of animals that suffer a far worse fate than these horses.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      I would agree that equating the life of a horse to that of a human would require a large justifying step; saucisson de cheval, uma-sashimi etc. are evidence enough. But I think two questions are raised,

      (i) Is it practical and financially viable to maintain the spectacle of the Grand National whilst improving safety? F1 has demonstrated that spectacle can be maintained whilst reducing the dangers inherent in some unpredicatbility* – clearly there is money in the sport and the salaries of the drivers, brand image etc., have presumably driven the improvement. Is there sufficient tangible and intangible money for the same in the Grand National? [I guess JR’s comment is some reflection of the intangible here, but perhaps not]

      (ii) How should (or just should) ‘we’ go about valuing lives of living organisms? At the one end of the scale, I suspect most people are happy to disinfect against bacteria in hospitals, at the other end of the scale many will struggle with setting abortion terms/deadlines? As well as the difficulty of intrinsic measures, there is the outcome/intent issue. In cockrel, dog, bull etc. fighting there is an intent of harm as part of the gladitorial spectacle, in horse racing it is probablly generally accepted that harm might be an outcome but there is not intent (e.g. reduced whipping, lower and softer fences) – nonetheless it is surely outcomes that matter in all politics?

      *though Bernie was suggesting sprinklers in last year’s yawn.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        Good to see a bit of rational logic applied to the issue.

    • chablis4me
      Posted April 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      Quite agree with the point that many animals suffer far worse fates than racehorses.
      Cows, chickens and pigs are no doubt devoured daily by horse racing critics. A lot of meat is imported where animal husbandry is far worse than here. A racehorse exists to race. The vast majority race safely into retirement. Please get a sense of proportion here.

  11. Kevin Ronald Lohse
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Totally agree. Slaughtering animals in the name of entertainment (as opposed to culling or for food) is generally looked down upon in a more enlightened society. The Grand National could learn from eventing and make the race more technically demanding ie putting in double jumps. whilst lowering the fences and still have an exciting race. Jockeys would have to do more than hang on and pray, as well.

  12. Susan
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    I will be honest and say until recently, I knew very little about horse racing therefore it would have been impossible for me to make an informed comment on this particular issue. I knew it did not interest me and I never watched it because as you say Mr. Redwood horses do die during the races, but apart from that I had no strong feelings about it. However recently I became better informed by a person who had much deeper knowledge of the industry and have to say I was horrified by what I was told. Behind the actual glamour of events lies untold suffering to horses both through the breeding process and the races. Although I am not a fan of bans perhaps it is time for at least a pause for the industry to be investigated properly to make sure necessary changes are put in place. We cannot continue to support uncivilised behaviour in a modern society whether it be to animals or people.

    • MickC
      Posted April 16, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Any views on kosher and halal meat?

      How about the chickens and other meat we import, which aren’t raised in UK regulation compliant “environments”?

      Or is it the case that “out of sight, out of mind” and the suffering of those animals doesn’t matter, (provided the meat is cheap)?

      Mr. Redwood is usually a good example of logical thinking-but on this seems to have fallen prey to “fluffy bunny syndrome”, presumably because it plays well with many voters.

      Reply: I was not thinking of the electoral impact – if I had I would not have ventured a view on such a divisive topic. I have always hated animal cruelty and wish to abate it whenever possible. I do not support maltreatment of chickens, and do think regulation is necessary control that type of behaviour.

      • MickC
        Posted April 16, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        Your first sentence makes a fair point-your blog is always interesting!

        Most people dislike animal cruelty-but only protest when it is in the MSM. There is nothing said about the mundane cruelty from which they benefit-as in cheap but ill treated meat. No-one said you support maltreatment of chickens-you are answering an accusation not made; but have you ever raised the point of the import of such meat, or the cruelty involved in kosher and halal meat (a much bigger problem) ? Surely this would be a logical step?

        Regrettably it is a characteristic of the British ruling classes (whether democratically elected or otherwise) to make “moral points” which accord them many plaudits-but at the expense of others. When slavery was outlawed, the UK did not ban the import of slave produced Brazilian sugar (which would have been logical), with the result that the British Caribbean islands were ruined.

        Cameron’s Libyan adventure has the same characteristics-a moral crusade in which others pay the cost.

        Reply: Yes, I have raised the issue of maltreatment of chickens, and urged enforcement of the new rules so we do not import chickens from abroad reared in much worse conditions than those at home.

        • MickC
          Posted April 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          Thank you for your reply. This is one of the few blogs where there is actually a real response to the comments-which makes it one of the better.

          @Home Rule for England

          I was not trying to justify one wrong with another-merely pointing out what usually gets attention is what is in the media-and that there are much greater iniquities happening which should take precedence. Too much of politics is dominated by what is current in the media.

          My view is in fact similar to our hosts on the subject ( in fact on this and much else).

      • HomeRuleforEngland
        Posted April 16, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Well said John. One wrong doesn’t justify another. I believe all meat should be at least free range and factory farming etc. stopped.

      • Susan
        Posted April 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        MickC,

        Sorry Mike you are on the wrong track with me I am afraid. I have deep concern for all animals and I practice what I preach. I did not know the ins and outs of horse racing until as I said someone told me all about it. Now I do it will become an important issue for me.

        Why you would suggest that it is illogical to care about animals I cannot fathom. You are living proof that tackling this subject by Mr. Redwood does not play well with voters so I would say your accusation is false.

        I guess “The planet of the Apes” must have had a big impact when I was a kid, give it a whirl it may make you see what it is like to be the animal and not the human for once.

      • A Different Simon
        Posted April 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        Doesn’t the animal lose consciousness within 20 seconds of having it’s throat cut ?

        Regrettably for many farm/factory animals death is a mercy .

        Pigs , obviously exempted , are treated scandalously during their lives .

        Humans may not eat other humans but they have a tendency to treat them just as badly as race horses .

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted April 17, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      I understand that you’ve formed your opinions based on something you were told by one person. I would suggest that you should seek atleast a couple of opinions, because you may get a very biased view and not a balanced view from just a sinle source, for example, if you sought the view of just Mr Clegg on the EU project, you may well think it is a great thing and only idiots would oppose it but, if you also got a view from our host, you would get a view from the other side of the debate and therefore would be able to make a properly informed judgement.
      Just my thoughts.

  13. MickC
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    More health and safety regulation? Yes, that’ll work nicely.

  14. A.Sedgwick
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    I am very pleased that you raised this matter. I watched the race purely because I wanted to know the worst and it was more distressing given that Synchronised did not want to race, shades of Ayrton Senna but he made the decision to do so.

    All jump racing should be banned as in Australia.

    I enjoy flat racing, the horse is more in control and it is more natural. Horses being driven at the limit over fences is bound to lead to unnecessary deaths.

    I have ridden a horse once – a to do thing when young on holiday and it was revealing. My horse was totally in control and when the instructor said to the group of about a dozen of us let’s gallop I was left clinging on to the reins as my horse was not going to be beaten racing over Dartmoor. When any other horse came close it went faster, so from this experience I know that they do like to race but they need to be protected. For me I decided once on a horse was enough.

  15. BrianSJ
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    One thing we can be sure of is that it is not the course. The deaths of horses is more frequent since the course was made ‘safer’. When I used to go to Aintree to watch it in the ’60’s and ’70’s the course was far more severe. In those days, accidents were attributed to unsuitable horses being allowed to race.
    I do not know the influences that are causing accidents now. My suspicion is that greed is at the root of it. A case could be made for ‘risk compensation’, but I haven’t seen the argument set out as yet. Filling in the ditch at Bechers is an example of an ineffective (?counter-productive) ‘safety’ measure.
    I cannot find a list of times for the race by year, to see if the race is now being run at a faster pace. Perhaps someone can point me in that direction.

    • Captain Crunch
      Posted April 16, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      It is being run faster. The smaller fences mean that times are the horses charge down much quicker.

      Ironically if the fences were higher this might discourage this. The grass should be allowed to grow longer (it is currently like a bowling green) and the ground watered so it is muddier. This would slow them all down. There are far few injuries in the years when the ground is soft or heavy (wet or very wet). This is because the horses must go slower.

      Actually filling in the brook at Bechers was long overdue. A few years ago horrified racegoers watched a fallen horse slip down into the brook and drown.

  16. bobbity
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Well the cars often die in F1!

    The horses were put down rather than just died, to save their suffering.

    One at least was like a family pet and it’s a huge loss for anyone to lose a horse so I think if something could be done then they would have.

    Changes have been made to help but then if we’re talking about animal rights etc, although it’s a shame, at the end of the day, more animals died for my dinner.

    • HomeRuleforEngland
      Posted April 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      So that fact that you’re a meat eater justifies this barbaric spectacle does it?
      The Grand National should be banned!

  17. Nigel
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    The problem is that if a horse breaks its leg badly, there is no way that it can be mended. Apparently if a horse is supported for a long time to take the weight from its leg, it would get pneumonia and die painfully. That is why the horses are shot.

    The horses seem to enjoy running and jumping together. It is interesting that when “Synchronised”, the Gold Cup winner broke its leg, it was running riderless.

  18. Winston Smith
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Yes, JR, what we need is £10m inquiry into horse racing, new quangos and a raft of State legislaton. £200k/pa for the chief of the Jumping Horses Monitoring Centre (North-west region). A horse ombudsman is a must.

    Still, whilst the political elite spend their time pursuing a totalitarian socialist State, our ability to provide sufficient energy, food and water for the people diminishes. We will end up eating horses, just like France, Japan and others.

  19. Robert K
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    My daughter rides competitively, as a junior, and I can only imagine the distress of the rider, trainer, and owner when a horse dies when racing. I had something of a Damascene moment watching the race on Saturday. I have always loved the spectacle of it and have been to Aintree several times. But given that, statiscally, there is only a 95% chance that a horse will live through it I suddenly realised that I could never expose a horse I owned to the Grand National, if I was lucky enough to own an animal of such quality.
    I don’t believe in bans – far too many things are banned in this country. But I do believe that the racing industry needs to take similar radical steps to the ones Formula One took in the 1970s, when numerous drivers were killed or seriously injured. Motor sport has shown that effective safety measures can be introduced without compromising the thrill and spectacle of its sport. Now it is time for the horse racing community to make the same sort of decisions. It is no longer good enough for the main players to shrug their shoulders and say “it’s tragic but an inevitable part of our sport”.

  20. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Perhaps they should reduce the number of runners and improve the start.
    Its a great race and small changes could make a big difference.

  21. stred
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I don’t know much about horses except that they bite when being offered grass. Warhorse was a moving film and we enjoyed watching the riderless horses carrying on during the race. It was shocking to read about the number of deaths the following day. and all the others at other events. What is puzzling is why the horses are not treated with anaethetic and their legs put in plaster, as would happen with other animals. Is this because they are not viable as racehorses and more profitable ending up on a french dinner table?

  22. Andy
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I have always hated animal cruelty and wish to abate it whenever possible.

    Just for consistency, what are your views on fox hunting with dogs John?

    Reply: I do not go fox hunting and do not like the sport. As with the Grand National I do not support legislating against it, but did support the third way approach to it.

  23. David Saunders
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Not sure I agree with you on this one, JR. There is danger in every activity and not all owners enter their horses for the National. It is the peak of achievement in horse racing over jumps and is part of the wider network of point to point racing, hunting and the fabric of social rural life, including welfare relief of those in need through funds raised at Hunt Balls, etc. The horses would not be bred for racing over the sticks if there was no reason for this and the tragic deaths must be viewed in a wider perspective. Horse are shot in humanityand because they can no longer race and so are not fit for that purpose (insurance will compensate the owners). Tragedy and sentiment are not good reasons for funamental changes that may bring unintended consequences. Animal welfarists should consider the morality of halal meat as a beter target.

  24. Normandee
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Investigate this more thoroughly before you comment, how many horses have died needlessly because they have to be put down to claim the insurance ?. The better the horse, the more it’s earning power, the less chance it has of “surviving” an accident because the insurance will not pay for an animal to be brought back to health, only for it’s loss. If there is any chance it’s racing career is over and it’s not wanted at stud, then it’s pass the gun !

  25. John B
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    “No-one would find it acceptable if a couple of drivers died in every Grand Prix car race.”

    You do know Mr Redwood that horses are not Human -right?

    In France and Belgium they eat them.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted April 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      And in Japan:raw.

  26. Dan H.
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Unlike most here, I actually do know quite a bit about the Grand National, and the death-rate of horses in it actually is unusually low for the type of fences and speed of the race. Steeple-chasing was invented as a sport as a way of semi-formalising a very fast cross-country fox hunt; the original races were literally going cross-country from steeple to steeple between villages, over whatever fences, hedges and so on lay in the way.

    Aintree is actually much truer to the original steeple chase than are most point to point races; about the only one left which still does anything close is the High Peak in Derbyshire. The fences at Aintree may look artificial, but under all that spruce is an actual hawthorn hedge and the actual hedges are big, solid living hedges of quite a considerable age. Aintree fences are big, wide and solid things and the Grand National is also a four-mile chase, longer than pretty much any other race. Even Wetherby Races, acknowledged as having big fences, are nothing like as big as the Grand National fences; there is literally no easy way of knowing if a horse can cope with the National without entering it to see.

    The Grand National also has many more runners than any other race in Britain; most places cap the entries at twenty-odd or at the most thirty; the Grand National has forty horses running (arguably far too many) and it is this massive cavalry charge which adds to the lethality of the race. The first fence is too far from the start. If you combine the mental effects of being in a huge herd, running into a wall of sound from the crowds and having a too-long run-in to the first fence on the horses, then what you get is a herd of horses that are damn close to a panicked bolt.

    Becher’s Brook used to be a killer, because it is a water jump with a big drop from front to back. Looking from the front of the fence, the left-hand side used to have about an eight-foot drop from top to landing; this is now merely (!) about six feet or so. Sensible jockeys go wide on Bechers, and ditto on the Canal Turn if they’re not at the front. Bechers was a killer, but has had the sting taken out of it now.

    To fix the problems of the Grand National, two major changes need to be made: Firstly, reduce the numbers to a maximum of thirty, and secondly either move the start closer to the first fence, or even stick in another fence much closer to the start to slow the horses down a bit. Sorting out the start system and perhaps replacing the tape with a simple traffic light system would be a great improvement; you simply do not need an accurate tape start on a four-mile chase!

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted April 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      Dan H.

      An excellent post from someone that obviously knows about horse racing and horses.

      What many on here miss, is the fact that a horse will not do anything it doesn’t want to do.

      Every owner, jockey and stable hand does not go into racing to harm horses; they love horses.

      I have watched a variety of news programmes today and have seen many single issue campaigners and it suddenly struck me; they all have one thing in common; they all want to impose their own morals and ideas on everyone else. Why do humans feel the need to boss their peers about?

      • Susan
        Posted April 17, 2012 at 6:30 am | Permalink

        Cliff Wokinham,

        What is the whip for then if a horse is allowed to do only what is wants to do.

        You want to impose your morals and ideas on everyone else including the horse so what is the difference?

        Its a free Country people are entitled to a view.

        • Cliff. Wokingham
          Posted April 17, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

          Susan;

          No need to get so aggressive; I have never tried to stop anyone from expressing a view.

          The sticks that jockeys use are designed to inflict no pain what so ever. As someone that has riden, I can assure you that no amount of beating, kicking or poking a horse will get it to do anything it didn’t want to do.

          If you are correct, why do horses that have fallen, always continue to run? Could it be its because they’re following their natural behaviours? Why do you think greyhounds chase a hare? All racing does is use the natural behaviours of the animals, to provide a sport.

          I personally don’t really like the Grandnational as a race. It is nearly impossible to make an informed judgement as to which horse is likely to win based on the normal criteria such as form, the ground etc.
          I think that there are far too many horses racing still, dispite the number being limited to only forty; there used to be many more. The course has been made too fast and it is the speed that is causing mistakes to be made.

          No one in horse racing wants to see an animal die or suffer. If I owned a horse, I would not enter it into the Grandnational but, who am I to impose my own views on others. I like to express my views but, I am happy for others to express their views too. I just wonder why so many single issue groups always feel they are the only ones entitled to a view and are the only people with a view that counts.

          Over the last couple of years or so, horse racing in this country has had a face lift and image change imposed on it by a group called Racing for change. When this group first came into being, I expressed concerns because it came across as a bunch of PC politicians more concerned about image and presentation rather than the needs of those involved in racing and betting.

          We do have a mixed view regarding animal welfare etc in this country and have seen examples on this blog thread.

          Why do we allow chickens to be exploited just for cheap meat?
          Why do we feel it is OK to eat cows, pigs and sheep, but not horses or dogs for example.
          Why do we allow ritulistic killing of animals? (halal & Kosher)

          The whole area of animal rights and welfare is a minefield.

          • Susan
            Posted April 17, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

            Cliff,

            Why does the horse keeping running after it has lost its rider, to get away from the guy who is beating it senseless of course, (just joking).

            Cliff sorry if I came across as aggressive, honestly that was not my intention at all. Sometimes I have write in a hurry and it may not always come across as it is meant. I am sure you are a very responsible and caring person but I can never support any activity that brings harm to humans or animals. Sorry but that is just how I feel. As I said earlier I have a friend who worked in the horse racing industry and he told a lot I did not know about the cruelty which occurs both in the breeding process and the racing itself. He had no reason to lie because he is a supporter of the sport.

            I have always been a believer in freedom of speech so all views, except those that intentionally hurt or abuse others are welcome as far as I am concerned, even if I do not agree with that which is being expressed.

            As to cruelty to animals in general, I agree with you, there is so much where does one start. I do my bit by my diet, I would like to do so much more but time restricts me from being able to.

          • Susanna
            Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:15 am | Permalink

            Good sense from someone who knows what he’s talking about. At lasr!

          • Cliff. Wokingham
            Posted April 18, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

            Susan;

            No problem:-)

            If you want an interesting day out that is horse racing based, may I suggest you go to the Lambourne Racing Stable’s open day. This is held every year on Good Friday. Most of the racing stables open their gates to the public and it is a good day out.
            One of the biggest and most easily accessable stables is the one owned by Barry Hills. You’ll be able to see the horses, speak to the staff and view the facilities, including the equine pool!
            Later in the day, they have a country fete in the village and, we usually take in lunch at one of the pubs and each offer a good vegetarian selection, other than just the standard vegetarian lasagne, which was about the only choice I had when I was vegetarian some thirty years or so ago.

            Walking around the many yards and stables and talking to the staff was a real eye opener; sure some aspects of racing need improvement although, in my opinion, most of these needed improvements relate to staff and their pay and conditions, rather than to the horses.
            With big money in racing and a good horse being a huge investment, the horses tend to be treated better and looked after better than the humans! I accept that this raises the question as to why, given the size of the investment, would an owner enter his horse in the Grand National? As stated above, I would not. I can only assume it’s for the fame and place in history that winning such a race leads to; all the wrong reasons in my opinion!

          • Susan
            Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

            Cliff,

            Now I have to admit that does sound lovely. Thank you, maybe I will take time to find out more about the nicer side of racing which you are talking about. My friend has offered to take me many times so maybe I should. He like you enjoys the better side of the industry but accepts some things need to change.

            I don’t have a closed mind on issues I am always prepared to learn, I just cannot bear to see pain to animals or humans that is all really.

  27. Bazman
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Winner came in at 25/1 for me with third place on an each way. One year I bet on one it fell at the second fence and was then shot. Terrible.

    • Susan
      Posted April 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Bazman,

      Part of the horsey set are you? Well who would have thought it. Your street cred has just gone.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        Bazman part of the horsey set? Now there is a thought.. I wondered why everyone was staring at me in the bookies. It turned out that my six year old daughter standing next to me while I attempted to place my bet is illegal, and by the reaction of us being taken outside to complete the formalities. Very illegal.

        • Susan
          Posted April 17, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          Bazman,

          Getting her educated in the necessary life skills a bit early don’t you think?

  28. rose
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I’d prefer twenty to forty horses in the GN. I realise there is not so much money in that arrangement and think it a pity so much of our traditional sport is hostage to big money and commerce now.

  29. Frances Matta
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    The horse meat trade among our European partners should arouse far more concern.

  30. Major Bore
    Posted April 17, 2012 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    The other side of the argument is that some element of danger is inevitable if a race is supposed to represent the pinnacle of a sport.Until recently Formula 1 cars had grooves cut into the treads of the tyres to deliberatley slow the cars down on corners..also making risky overtaking maneuvers more unlikely. How far down the road to absolute safety do we go before the essence of motor racing is lost ?.

    It’s arguable that Formula one racing although much safer , the standard of racing has suffered as more emphasis has been put on safety.

    I’m not suggesting that we should go back to the days when drivers were killed but a balance has to be struck between acceptable risk and the rewards.
    Similarly we could trim the national’ hedges, fit crash mats etc. and lose the essence of a race that turns horses and riders into legends.

  31. Tom William
    Posted April 17, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Dan H’s comments are spot on.

    As for those who claim that the horses are “not asked if they want to race”, can they explain why so many who fall continue jumping on their own? Sadly Synchronised was one of those because he broke a leg after jumping five fences without a rider.

    • Susan
      Posted April 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Tom,

      I could give your various reasons why they continue on their own. One, they are conditioned to continue, two, nowhere else to go and three, it must be a nice little run for them without something stuck on your back hitting you.

      Tom it is just dated, old hat time to move on.

      • Tom William
        Posted April 17, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

        As John McEnroe would put it “you can not be serious”!

  32. Susanna
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    My sister keeps two hunters, Ted and Henry, they are pretty robust beasts and can cope with weekly outings in all weathers during the hunting season very well — rarely injuring themselves or requiring a vet. Before the National started on Saturday we were hoping no horses would have to be destroyed this time and she said, “The problem is they’re all pure thoroughbreds in the National, no hunters nowadays”.

    Thoroughbreds aren’t the right breed for a race which is basically an obstacle course requiring skill, toughness and judgement. Thoroughbreds are bred for speed and stamina. It’s rather like the difference between an army assault course and an athletics hurdle track. Trainers and owners should start entering the horse equivalent of tough squaddies, instead of Olympic athletes, into this special but far too often tragic race.

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      An excellent post with which, I totally agree.

      Pure thoroughbreds are too fragile to endure the demands of a race like the Grand national and, I suspect, had the course not been “made safer” by reducing the size of fences and removing many of the drops, then I suspect, few thoroughbred would be entered.

      The whole point of national hunt racing was to copy the condition that would be encountered in the old steeple chases; A race accross open countryside, jumping fences and walls, between two church steeples in neighbouring villages.
      The Grand National is, to some extent, the closest one could get to a steeple chase on a course, as opposed to open countryside. When I used to go to point to point events, I saw few, if indeed any, thoroughbreds taking part, for the reasons, I suspect, you set out.

      I think you make a very good point about horses for course, so to speak!

      In recent years, at the Cheltenham Festival, they have brought in a cross country race which uses a figure of eight course in the middle of the main track, this is a very good race; it has banks, fences etc and, in my opinion, is a far better race than the Grand National.

  33. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Good Article Mr Redwood.

    The Grand National is a dangerous race and many Horses have died in the pursuit of entertainment in this so called “Sport”.

    It could be argued that it is more ethical to allow drivers to die in the Grand Prix or Le Mans as they have elected to take those risks where as, the Horses who die do not have that choice.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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