The infamous British horse race, the Grand National, returned to Aintree, Liverpool this week. It’s taking place without spectators this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Immediately, animal rights advocates called for a host of large companies to pull financial backing and end the ‘shameful spectacle’ which has seen the deaths of 27 horses over the past decade.
Urging companies to take action
Companies financially supporting the three-day event include National Express, Ryanair, and Chi Chi London. The list also includes Marsh, Molson Coors, Randox Health, and Pinsent Masons.
But animal advocacy charity, PETA, urged them to pull funding. The charity says hundreds of horses are sent to the abattoir as a result of horse racing every year.
‘Horses who can’t run fast enough are often discarded. They’re handed over to rescue charities, left to languish in fields, shot at stables, or sold for slaughter’, PETA claimed.
It branded the event ‘animal cruelty’ and said urgent action is needed to end it for good. As a result, a host of social media users responded with messages of support for a ban.
Elsewhere, campaigners protested outside a betting shop. They are holding a minute’s silence for all the horses that have died during the controversial race, according to Stoke-on-Trent Live.
The Grand National draws millions of viewers around the world and has been blasted for being too dangerous in the past. One of the jumps is even nicknamed ‘killer fence’, and three horses died following the race in 2019 alone.
This year is the 173rd event and will see the winner receiving a prize of £750,000. Additionally, flags will be flown at half-mast in respect of Prince Phillip, who died yesterday.
Despite its criticisms, Grand National organizers claim measures have been put in place to make the race safer.
They state: “Over the years, Aintree race officials and the British Horse Racing Authority have introduced a number of safety-related changes to the Grand National to make the race safer.
“This is not only focused around the horses but also on the jockeys. 40 horses running over 30 of the most demanding fences naturally comes with its risks.”
However, animal rights charities continue to call for the race to be banned.
For more information on PETA’s calls to end the Grand National, visit it’s website