The Grand National

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The Grand National

Post by Caryll on Sat Apr 11, 2015 11:51 am

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/grand-national-2015-how-grand-can-a-race-be-when-some-horses-snap-or-die-before-finishing-10168443.html

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Re: The Grand National

Post by Lorraine on Sat Apr 11, 2015 12:15 pm

It's not just this race, on average a horse dies on a racecourse one in every two days in the UK. That's just those on the course. sad
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Re: The Grand National

Post by Hayley on Sat Apr 11, 2015 12:50 pm

Horses die just walking around a a field. At the end of the day we ride horses and it's always going to be dangerous for both parties - but they try very hard to make it as safe as possible. Every death makes a change to the course but the trainers have to make sure their horse is fit too, many die from not being fit. Many national racers are horses at the end of their career and if it wins they get loads of money and d they loose and die they get rid of a horse that wouldn't sell and a death pay out. That's the issue - not the race.
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Re: The Grand National

Post by Caryll on Sat Apr 11, 2015 6:28 pm

The Grand National hurdles have hardly changed in years, so I'm afraid the excuse that every death makes a change in the course just doesn't wash.

ANY animal sport that has betting attached will always be about the main nbey & winning and not about animal welfare.

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Re: The Grand National

Post by LyndaW on Sat Apr 11, 2015 9:02 pm

Sorry to disagree Caryll, but the Grand National fences have been modified over the years, as have the approaches and landing sides in some cases, and this (plus a limit of 40 in the race, and restrictions against hopelessly outclassed horses) has done much to improve safety of the race in recent years. Plus, although the fences do look particularly huge, they are fences that are used throughout the year and are just stuffed full of furze for this race - the horses soon cotton on that they can safely crash through the top six inches or so.

The article quoted says that horses are "forced to run side by side at break neck speed" and are "forced" to jump the fences and both of these statements are just not true. They love it! Just see how many horses that have fallen or unshipped their jockeys continue running and jumping riderless. If a horse doesn't want to jump, it won't; rider or no. And break-neck speed is misleading too, 35mph is a hand gallop for a thoroughbred and no jockey is going to risk using up his horse's stamina by going hell for leather until the last run-in.

The Grand National IS a tough race to be sure, but there is no point in having a race to prove the best staying chaser if it's going to be just another run-of-the-mill race.

That said, as a horse-lover my heart is always in my mouth. I could wish there wasn't that fiendish elbow and long run-in before the finish, and I DO wish that the race would revert back to the last Saturday in March rather than the first Saturday in April - as that week can make all the difference to the heat that the race is run in. Ballybriggs a few years ago was suffering from heat exhaustion, as was Many Clouds today, and it was very weird to see the jockey walking alone to fanfares into the unsaddling enclosure, but the horses were treated immediately by cooling washes and sprays and multitudes of vets.
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Re: The Grand National

Post by Hayley on Sat Apr 11, 2015 9:55 pm

Yes all horses walked Away this year. One died in an earlier race though unfortunately. But again it can happen at any time I know of countless horses who've just died walking over a rock wrong or jumping a fence and getting caught
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Re: The Grand National

Post by LyndaW on Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:48 pm

Point taken Hayley, Life is hazardous.

If there wasn't horse-racing, the English Thoroughbred would never have existed. It's a specialist animal to be sure, but has enhanced many strains of working horse or pony through it's introduction.

Many, many more racehorses end up in dog-food tins or beefburgers than get killed on a race-course doing what they love.


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Re: The Grand National

Post by tracyp on Sun Apr 12, 2015 10:04 pm

We have the same issue here with some of our races but I must agree with you Lynda.

Far more horses die here when working on the land than in any race. The only difference is the publicity. If every horse here that broke a leg or died on a station got news coverage, there would be no time to show world news.
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Re: The Grand National

Post by Shisa on Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:44 am

Horses are plagued by just as many health issues as dogs are. They're just not so publicly broadcast.
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Re: The Grand National

Post by Caryll on Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:22 pm

I still feel that the Grand National hurdles are way too big & despite the fact that none died this year, they continue to get injured/die in their hundreds every year across the various race tracks.
"According to research by Animal Aid in 2012, Aintree was the most lethal of all of Britain's racecourses, claiming the lives of six horses in just eight days of racing."

The thing that gets me is the total lack of care/sympathy from the owners/trainers other than the loss of money.

I'm not opposed to racing the same as I'm not opposed to dog showing, but animal welfare should come far higher on the agenda of both than it presently does.

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Re: The Grand National

Post by LyndaW on Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:47 pm

Ah they DO care/sympathise Caryll, believe me.

I could quote you several instances, but one that sticks in mind was when John-Jo O'Neill was a jockey (he's a trainer now) and the horse he was riding fell and died (fortunately for the horse immediately). And I can see Jon-Jo now, kneeling on the turf by the horse's head and crying his heart out.

Also, 2004 - I'll quote "Persian Punch, Flat racing's grand old warrior, died in action at Ascot yesterday, sparking one of the saddest occasions ever witnessed at this historic course. He suffered a massive heart attack and collapsed 100 yards from the line, when weakening and well back in the closing stages of the two-mile Sagaro Stakes.

Connections were distraught. Owner Jeff Smith, trainer David Elsworth and jockey Martin Dwyer all shed tears at the passing of their extraordinary racehorse ....." This was a flat race. The reason I remember this horse so much was because he was the horse pictured on the Christmas card for the Injured Jockey's Fund that year, and inside it said "Never was a horse so loved".

It's terrible when a horse dies on a course for everyone concerned - please don't think that they don't care!
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Re: The Grand National

Post by Hayley on Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:19 pm

The jumps are 5ft tall and basically mush so they really only jump them about 4ft which is nothing. The main issue I fee is the number of runners. I've always felt there was too many and that is the main cause of so many injuries.
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Re: The Grand National

Post by LyndaW on Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:28 pm

Yes it is a big field, but at least limited to 40 these days and hopelessly outclassed horses/riders are now excluded.

What made me personally mad was a couple of years ago on a forum known to many of us, a man complained that the National was now so soft that there weren't so many fallers and this made it less exciting for him!!!!!! Git.
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Re: The Grand National

Post by Caryll on Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:50 pm

Yes, I remember, Lynda.

However, nothing will convince me that money does not come high above welfare in horse racing. Maybe some trainers/owners care, but for every one that cares there are 20 that couldn't give a sh1t.

The horse wins or it dies.

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Re: The Grand National

Post by LyndaW on Tue Apr 14, 2015 8:11 pm

Caryll wrote:The horse wins or it dies.

That is very true, unfortunately - especially these days.

In the '60s I had a retired racehorse - Walstead. He had actually won the Southern Handicap hurdle when racing, but some time after damaged a tendon. He was nursed back to health and sold on through the vibrant "pet horse" market existing at that time. About 20 years later I regularly rode a lovely retired mare - Bintags. I don't know her racing history but she had a weakened back so could only jump tiny things, like fallen logs.

Due to various reasons, the "pet horse" market has collapsed, and I know in my bones that nowadays racehorses like these who break down, or are just not "good enough" are shot. And yes, that's where the money comes in, it's just not viable to treat broken down horses who won't be able to race afterwards, or to keep a horse in training who consistently comes nowhere. If it is a mare with good breeding there might be a chance for her as a brood mare, otherwise there is nowhere else for them to go except into a dog-food tin.

I wish I had a solution .......................

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Re: The Grand National

Post by Caryll on Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:02 am

The solution is to severely restrict betting. I know that some will go underground, but it would help. There would be less of the 'win at all costs' attitude prevalent in horse racing.

Any sport that attracts heavy gambling will attract that attitude.

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Re: The Grand National

Post by LyndaW on Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:12 pm

I honestly don't know Caryll, I haven't thought it through from the betting angle yet.

"If I ruled the world" there would be no gambling at all, but then I've never had that particular vice myself, but my son (and ex-husband) are both addicts (seriously) and I know how much misery that causes and not only to the gamblers.

And yes, it would go underground - I am only just old enough to dimly remember bookie's runners, when off-course betting was illegal (as I believe it still is in the USA). And there will always be someone (shh shh) who is "running a book".

As to whether restriction of gambling would prevent injury/death to racehorses, I just don't know. Jockeys are not allowed to gamble (at least on the outcome of races they are riding in) and will usually pull up a horse who has "gone wrong" in a race.

My son tells me that trainers are only allowed to bet on their "own" horses in a particular race, but that owners can bet on anything they want to. Whether that influences what they tell their jockey to do I really can't conjecture.

As to Joe Public's bets, I'd wager (lol) that this doesn't influence the jockey/trainer/owner one iota.



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Re: The Grand National

Post by Caryll on Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:08 pm

The problem with gambling is the big money - not the small time betters (although it might not seem small to those involved).

It creates situations where the outcome of a bet is more important than the health/welfare of the horse & even the jockey.

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Re: The Grand National

Post by LyndaW on Fri Apr 17, 2015 12:12 am

Yes, we hear (it's even mentioned on the racing channels) of someone or other who has laid £10K or so on a horse. The mind boggles, and yes I don't suppose they care one bit about the horse, so long as they win their bet.

If the big better is a professional gambler, then I doubt very much whether this would influence how the race is run. Unless .... the big better is the trainer or owner and has the jockey over a barrel to win the race at all costs. Of if the big better has the jockey in his pocket. And if any of that was ever uncovered it would be major scandal indeed.

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