Might as well jump…

Haven’t blogged for ages, so will start with a brief recap of things…. Here’s what I had to say to the Independent – http://tinyurl.com/h0rses – after two horses died at the Grand National, a jockey was left fighting for his life, the winner was so exhausted/ dehydrated he couldn’t make it into the Winner’s enclosure and the winning jockey was disciplined for over-zealous use of his whip. (Not that five days suspension after you’ve just won the Grand National counts as much of a punishment).

I’m not a fan of horse-racing. My father certainly is; he wanted to name me Arkel if I’d been a boy. (As I always say, could have been worse, could have been Red Rum.)
The Grand National is obviously one of the highlights of the year for people who do love racing, and also draws in many other people who only have a flutter once a year. I’m a firm believer in the art of the possible in politics, hence my comments about trying to make the race safer for horses without destroying the institution of the Grand National altogether. It’s a compromise position, yes, but one that could see results. (A bit like the dolphin-friendly tuna campaign – someone asked me on Twitter the other day, what about tuna-friendly tuna? And of course, I’d rather people didn’t eat tuna either, but one step at a time, let’s focus politically on what’s achievable in the here and now – and then move on to the next step, and so on and so on.)

My comments on animals in circuses in the Indy piece lose something in the editing. The parallel I was trying to draw was that there is a very clear majority amongst the British public for a ban in wild animals in circuses. I can’t see a huge difference between that and horse-racing, which is also about using animals for entertainment. Some will argue that horses love racing. Perhaps they do? Some will also argue that elephants love performing in circuses… (let’s save the zoo debate for another time!)

What I’m arguing for at this point in time though, is that there is something horribly wrong with an event where so many horses die. Let’s see if we can do something about that first…

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  • northernheckler  On April 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Unlike you Kerry I’m not big on animal rights, however the sheer number of horses dying in the National is cause for concern whatever your position on animal cruelty is. There were a further two horses that died in the Scottish National at Ayr – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-13106252 and the figures quoted in this BBC report http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13034474 ; show an astonishing 6 deaths out of 439 starts over 11 years in the English National alone (and remember there are other deaths at the Aintree meet) – that’s the same as 1.3% or 1 in 74.

    If that risk factor were applied to a journey to and from work, it would mean that you could expect to die within two months if you drove there and back five days a week. Clearly far too risky to contemplate.

    However much people love the Grand National I can’t see why anyone at all wants to see horses dying at that kind of rate. Least of all the owners – who often have many thousands of pounds tied up in racehorses.

    I feel sure that appropriate risk management strategies could be used to preserve the essential features of National Hunt racing, whilst making it considerably less lethal to horses and jockeys

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