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The Not-So-Grand National

The Grand National starts today and its controversial history has already been repeated with two horses already having died in the preliminary stages; one from a jump, the other from a suspected heart attack.

There have been numerous attempts to make the races safer but these do not seem to be making any difference, with horses continuing to die at each race.

It is a sad state of affairs that people would accept this practice as normal and only express remorse at the death of the horses rather than the initial cruelty. Furthermore, this remorse is short-lived and only shown during the Great National and later races. The races are treated as an experience and a great day out but who treats a death as a great day out? The fact that the horse is a lesser-being, an animal, changes the very treatment and perception that we grant it; this is wholly unfair.

Ludicrously, the RSPCA have argued that the Grand National, or horseracing in general, does not amount to animal cruelty, stating that animal cruelty was when people deliberately hurt animals for their own entertainment or pleasure. But surely this is exactly what the Grand National is? Jockeys beating their horses with sticks for their pursuit of money and fame, whilst others gather to watch, bet and enjoy. And year after year, horses die as a direct result of the broken bones caused by falling at fences they are required to jump. This is a very strange opinion to hear from the RSPCA.

The attempts to make the Grand National safer every year are unsuccessful. Changing the heights and types of fence are a step forward but they are not enough. The real problem in horseracing is the pressure that jockeys are put under to win the race and the difficulty to manoeuvre the horse when all horses are so close together, taking bends and dangerous jumps. It seems unlikely that any changes will be made to stop these horses having to die.

For some reason, cruelty to animals is a frowned upon practice yet the Grand National does not constitute as animal cruelty to many in society. The decrease of a threat of a death is enough to calm some fears but this is not enough to ensure the safety of our animals. Horseracing is a horrible sport that has been normalised into acceptance.

Additionally published by Redbrick.

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