I used to gamble a lot on horses when I was younger – a lot younger than I am now and naturally the motivation was to try and win money. As I got older and a bit more wiser I realised that gambling was a mug’s game and I stopped absolutely. However, when the mood takes me – and if I’m in a position to throw away a few bob, I will have a bet on the Grand National (although this year I wasn’t in any sort of financial position to take even the smallest gamble).
The Grand National is the pinnacle of national hunt racing in the UK and for all those involved in the sport, it’s the one they all want to win. For me, having a history of gambling on horses, it’s still the showpiece race of the year and I love the romance of the race, so many people, jockeys, trainers and owners looking to make a piece of Grand National history – and what romantic dreams has the race realised over the years, from three-time winner Red Rum, to cancer beating jockey Bob Champion winning the race on Aldaniti (all the more special since the horse had recovered from serious illness as well as the jockey). But for every romantic denouement, there’s always the tragic antithesis and again in this year’s race we’ve seen the demise of two more horses – including Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Sychronized – who ironically enough would probably still be here had he bolted a little bit further just prior to the start of the race.
Anyway, the point of the blog. Is it time to call time on this perilous race and the racing industry or is the demise of horses an acceptable hazard of horse racing? After all, it is an industry which creates jobs and work for a lot of people and what would we do with all the redundant thoroughbreds if there wasn’t a racing industry, start riding them into battle again? What are your thoughts?