I confess I detest the National in a way. I find it thrilling to watch and like the betting levy often from sources that racing’d not get otherwise. Thus with me it’s a form of toleration but it’s not what racing is ‘about’ or representative of even National Hunt racing or something I can defend. Having sent one hurdling I really am not up for my fair handicapper Trending to be risked in the safer side of jump racing.
It’s thrilling to watch a Vautour or Cue Card or Douvan or an Ah Mad even but…. even jumps fans call for their retirement once they’re 10+ and run badly once. Hardly an endorsement of the safety of the sport even from fans of horses running acceptable risks over normal fences in normal size fields.
Trainers/Those In Racing are the worst guardians most being such +ve characters they have no idea of risk -> see Istabraq & Kauto pulled up 3 obstacles in because their trainers wanted to believe as much as the mugs who backed them on that day. Or paying 90 grand to ride a poor jumper like Black Thunder in a National!
The British Horseracing Authority has got in front on the issue of the Whip. You’d not mark or hurt a baby with it used as a ummm whip. However it cannot seem to make the National course safe. There has been no fatalities for a few years in the race itself but this year 4 horses died from less than a 100 runners at the Aintree festival over the fences. Last year’s National had many horses who have barely run since. Friday’s Topham Chase produced 2 deaths and 3 burst blood vessels.
The best argument for the National course is it is only used 4 times a year and is not representative. That every sport needs an ultimate challenge and there are a lot of injustices in the world involving more important things than horses. If animal rights is your bag there is no convincing argument but horses are as Ruby Walsh said livestock. Oddly it is only those of us who own, train, muck out, brush, ride and race them that know them as something more not the angry of Brightons.