RSPCA: jockeys mustn’t force tired horses to finish in Grand National
Four horses died during last year’s three-day race meeting, compared to five in 2009. This was despite the course managers’ efforts to produce the best going possible.
We continue to be concerned about misuse of the whip, particularly during and after the last jump of the Grand National.
RSPCA equine consultant David Muir said: “Jockeys need to consider their responsibilities in relation to the safety and welfare of the horse, with all whip use being strictly within the rules. They should not force tired horses to continue to race just for the sake of finishing the course as this greatly increases the risk of serious injury to both horse and rider.”
The RSPCA has worked with Aintree officials to introduce various changes to the course in recent years, including adjustments to the fence cores, padded jump protection and additional run-outs for riderless horses. These changes are ongoing, with the welfare of the horse as the main concern.
Mr Muir said: “The death of a horse at any race meeting is never justifiable and it is crucial that, wherever possible, steps are taken to reduce the likelihood of such tragedies occurring.
“The Grand National is the most testing of races and due to the number of runners, the distance of the race and the number and variety of obstacles there is a higher risk to horses.
“Many improvements have been made to the course including fences such as Becher’s Brook; however the drop jump element of such obstacles will always be an area of concern to us.
“The RSPCA continues to maintain a close dialogue with the racecourse’s management and will address any concerns that may arise at this year’s meeting.”
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