Saturday, 4 April 2009

They shoot horses, don't they?

My son is going for a birthday outing with some mates to Thorpe Park this week. I'm happy for him to go, but with one proviso. 'Please don't go on Saw,' I begged.
Saw is a rollercoaster ride based on the slasher films of the same name, and it looks horrific, full of twists, turns and sheer drops. 'I don't think I want to,' my son replied after watching the advert promoting the ride.
That's his choice. I understand that some people enjoy the adrenaline rush of super scary rollercoasters, but I have never been one of them, so whether they're here or abroad, I avoid them like the plague. That's my choice.
The horses running at today's Grand National don't have a choice. Just the names of some of the fences are enough to strike terror into your heart - The Chair and Becher's Brook. Some of the jumps have a lower landing side than take off and that means the horse is totally unaware of what's to come until it's in the air.
Not surprisingly, the casualties and injuries are numerous. Since 1997 27 horses have died as a result of running in the National.
I understand racing. Though you wouldn't know it to look at me, as I am neither short or slight, I come from a racing family. My uncle was a jockey and my grandfather was also a jockey, who came third in the National. So, like so many others, I used to enjoy a flutter. But that was until I comprehended the full horror of the course.
Once you stop romanticising it, you realise that this race, probably more than any other, is all about money, and lots of it. The National isn't fun for the horses, and it's a fallacy to suggest otherwise. It is a torturous race to be endured. The horses don't have a choice. But we do.

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