11 April, 2011

Grand National compared to bullfighting after two horses die & less than half of field finish race:

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Only 19 out of 40 starters completed the 2011 Aintree Grand National
The Aintree Grand National has been called many things in it's 125 years history.  However; I have never heard compared to Spanish bullfighting.  That is until after Saturday's 2011 Grand National.  Aintree will have to review safety after two horses died in sweltering heat and over firmer ground than usual.  
The annual controversy over the dangers of the meeting intensified further after a jockey riding in the Maghull Novices' Chase – a race that did not feature the National fences – was put in a medically-induced coma after sustaining head injuries when his horse fell at the first fence earlier on Saturday.
The National, run over ground officially described as "good, good-to-soft in places", was won by Ballabriggs in nine minutes and one second, making it the second fastest ever. The speed at which the horses travelled increased the likelihood of injuries.  Only 19 of the 40 horses that started the race finished it. Ten fell; five were pulled up; four unseated their riders; and two were brought down by other fallers.
After two deaths; a fence (Becher's Brook) was bypassed for the first time ever
The two horses that died fell during the first circuit of the four - and - a - half - mile race. Ornais fell at the fourth fence, breaking its neck, while Dooneys Gate fell at the sixth, Becher's Brook, breaking its back. Their falls led to both fences being bypassed in the second circuit, the first time such action has been taken in the history of the Grand National.
Ballabrigs wins National but couldn't enter winner's enclosure afterwards
The race also appeared to have taken a heavy toll on Balla - briggs, which was given oxygen and doused with water to cool it down. Its rider, Jason Maguire, had to dismount and enter the winner's enclosure on foot. Three of the first four horses to finish were too exhausted to enter the winners' enclosure and went directly to their stables.
The protest group Animal Aid, which pointed out that 20 horses have died on the Grand National course since 2000, called for the event to be banned, saying it "should have no future in a civilised country". Its director, Andrew Tyler, said: "When horses are killed at the Grand National meeting, their deaths are not accidents but entirely predictable. The public has been conned into believing that the Grand National is a great sporting spectacle when, in reality, it is straightforward animal abuse that is on a par with Spanish bullfighting."
The Royal Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  (RSPCA) has confirmed that it will conduct a full investigation into the events (and particularly the circumstances surrounding the two horse deaths) which took place during Saturday's race.  I hope that no stone will be left un-turned and no disciplinary matters unadressed.  The fact that the Grand National is the richest (and most betted on) race in the World; means my hope will most likely be un-realised because:  Falls = Drama; Drama = Big Audiences; Big Audiences = Big Money.
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