The Grand National: Sport or Cruelty?


The famous Grand National, held in Liverpool annually, is a steeplechase where horses are required to make multiple jumps over a four-mile course. As a huge animal lover from my early years, I used to love horse riding.  However, in recent years my opinions have changed. Why? Because I believe it is cruel in a way for horses to compete in such a challenging event where they are whipped purely for human gain.  Why else?

The fences in the Grand National are very high, averaging around 1.5m. If the horse is not able to clear the jump its hooves can clip the older wooden fences, causing them pain and subsequent injuries. More recently, the jumps have been made out of plastic. Yet this still doesn’t make a great deal of difference. In 2000, three horses died at the grand national, one of which broke their neck- which is the horrifying reality. Since then, a further 28 horses have sadly died- all of which were due to traumatic injuries resulting from the pressure and competitiveness of the Grand National.

We should remember that these horses are not given a choice- they are forced to compete for the rider’s sponsors and that it has become a part of our culture where nationwide bets are placed on a likely winner. Jockeys are there to do a job and although they have an affinity with their horse, they still have to deliver the goods!  This fact can be supported by how horses are killed for meat- further saving costs if they aren’t providing their rider with any gains or financial benefit. It’s despicable!

We hear about the successes of the Grand National but not about its consequences;  the repeated fractures, heart attacks and tendon injuries suffered by the horses. Surely, they deserve better consideration? Consider for a moment why these facts are never reported in the media. It is because we are the gladiators wanting a win without any consideration of what is really taking place. What consideration is given to the horses welfare? In reality, the horses in these races have a far shorter life expectancy than the rest of their species.

Personally, I believe that the Grand National is not a sport at all! Rather, it is a mere spectacle used for financial benefit with no consideration for these beautiful animals, who suffer for the majority of their comparatively short lives.

To answer the question: it is cruelty! It cannot be labelled as a sport.

Hannah Pearce


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I'm Rebecca, I study Communication and Media Studies at Loughborough whilst also being the assistant editor for Label 17/18!x If you have anything you would like to write about or any queries, email me:

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