Grand National 2014 – Sport or Barbarism?

We were relieved to see that there were no horse fatalities in this year’s Grand National held at Aintree on Saturday.  However just 18 of the 39 who took part were able to complete the course – eight horses fell and seven were pulled up because they were either exhausted or injured.  It’s fortunate that no horses were killed given the amount that fell.

The Grand National, despite being the most popular event of the horseracing calendar, attracting thousands of race goers from across the world, culminating in millions of pounds of wagers,  continues to present a major hazard to the life and welfare of those horses compelled to run it.

In 2013, The Guardian reported, “The fences have been changed in an effort to improve safety for horses and jockeys, but still the course remains a huge challenge to its competitors.”  In fact, The Grand National course has several uniquely and perversely difficult obstacles – of a total of 30 – and 2014 is the first in many years where a horse has not died over the course of the event.

According to the British Horseracing Authority, modern steeplechase races have an average of four+ equine fatalities for every 1,000 horses taking part.  The Grand National, however, yielded seven fatalities out of 439 horses taking part between 2000 and 2010 (source BBC News).

Take a look at these photographs taken in 2013 of The Chair, following the so-called safety improvements – and we call this Sport?

Images courtesy of The Guardian in 2013 depicting Mourne Paddy ridden by BG Crawford (wearing sky blue) as he struggles to clear The Chair.

In future, we would urge people to donate to Horse Welfare Charities rather than betting on these horses’ lives.  You can do so with Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary here.

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