Animal rights activists demand end to Grand National after two horses die

Two horses died following the Grand National

The deaths of two horses following this year’s Grand National have led to renewed calls for an end to the famous race.

A total of 40 horses started the Grand National at the Aintree Festival on Saturday, with 50-1 underdog Noble Yeatsridden by jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, taking a shock victory.

However, only 15 horses finished the race – two of which had to be put down due to their injuries. Eclair Surf was shot after suffering a heavy fall, while Discorama also died from his injuries.

Emma Lavelle, who coached Eclair Surf, said: “We were optimistic when he left the track, but during the night he became more and more wobbly and as he became more and more distressed, this was not the right thing to do to continue.

“You kind of sit there and think about the ifs and buts and why not, but you can’t sit and think that.

“He’s a real gutter for everyone – his owners and the team. He was an exciting horse for the future, but what can you say?”

Over the weekend two more horses died following other races at this year’s meeting, with Solwara One and Elle Est Belle sadly passing away.

The Grand National is scrutinized

The famous race has been the subject of criticism for several years, with animal rights activists regularly calling for the event to be banned.

According to League Against Cruel Sports, a total of 59 horses have died at the Aintree Festival since 2000, and 15 have died as a result of Grand National racing during the same period.

Chris Luffingham, director of external affairs at the animal welfare charity, said: “This death toll is simply unacceptable and a blight on the horse racing industry.

“We need new safety measures to put the welfare of the horses first and put an end to this sickening spectacle.

“We need a new, independent regulator that focuses solely on the welfare of the horse and ends the use of whipping and the cruelty and body count associated with the Grand National.”

RSPCA Grand National

The RSPCA condemns the dead

The RSPCA also condemned the deaths of the horses, insisting it was ‘heartbreaking’ while backing calls for more extensive safety measures.

He said: “One death of a horse is always one too many, so it is crucial that steps are taken to reduce the risk of such tragedies occurring.”

The British Horseracing Authority has been asked to identify how deaths could be avoided in the future and help reduce ‘avoidable risks’.

James Given, Director of Equine Health and Welfare, said: “We are all extremely saddened by the fatal injuries at the Grand National Festival.

“Following a comprehensive review in 2011-2012, the BHA and Aintree Racecourse worked together to introduce a number of important measures which have helped in the years since to reduce the injury rate at of the Grand National meeting.

“However, welfare and safety is an ever-evolving commitment and the BHA is constantly working alongside our racecourses to further improve the sport’s safety record and reduce avoidable risks.”

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