The deaths in the Grand National have made headlines around the world, and for good reason.
A unique race with a long history has claimed two horses. Ornais and Dooneys Gate suffered fatal injuries at different fences.
Animal welfare groups expressed their anger, with Animal Aid describing the deaths as entirely predictable.
Countless thousands of words have been written about this event, but, to be frank, I just can’t understand the math.
According to figures from the League Against Cruel Sports, the latest deaths in the Grand National have taken the Grand National toll to 17 deaths in the last 16 years.
I’m going to use some round numbers here for the sake of simplicity.
With 40 starters in this year’s race, 5 per cent of the starting horses lost their lives. That means for every four and a half minutes of racing this year, a horse lost its life.
In all, 25 per cent of the field either fell or unseated their rider.
If we say, very roughly, that each Grand National lasts nine minutes, then in the last 16 years one horse has losts its life in this race for every 8 minutes and 28 seconds of racing.
These figures completely ignore the horses that may have suffered career-ending injuries in the race.
The headlines online aren’t exactly exulting in the spectacle of it all. The Daily Mail’s online edition described it as Aintree’s darkest day.
The Guardian online headlined one of its pieces: Two horses die as gruelling Grand National takes its toll at Aintree.
The Grand National is a very lucrative event. So lucrative that a death rate that is nothing short of appalling is allowed to continue.
Yes, changes have been made to make the jumps safer and the welfare of the horse is supposedly at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
But, without doubt, commercial realities will see the race run again, with the jumps revisited yet again to make them safer, and the very same lines about horse welfare will be heard again.
The racing industry may make all the right noises, but the statistics, in my view, are just too grim to put up any sort of reasonable argument to justify this annual carnage continuing.