The RSPCA has said it is “great news” that all the competing horses in this year’s Grand National survived the race.
For the second year running, the animal welfare charity had a team of experienced equine inspectors present at the course, who helped to oversee the welfare of the competing horses.
David Muir, the RSPCA’s equine consultant, said: “It is great news all these horses finished the race unscathed and we have seen this race finish without serious injury or death.
“Although the testing nature of the Grand National will always produce a higher level of risk, that risk must be appropriate and we are hopeful the changes made so far have gone some way to create a good race which doesn’t have to involve the suffering of animals.”
Following the deaths of horses Synchronised and According to Pete in 2012’s race, equine inspectors from the charity and Mr Muir identified changes needed and worked with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and the management of Aintree to improve the course.
As a result, in September 2012, the BHA announced a programme of changes including:
- the alteration of the fence cores to create a more forgiving structure in the event of a horse catching the fence
- reform of the start area to reduce levels of stress for horses and reducing the distance to the first fence
- more work on the improvement of drop landing zones
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “We are delighted the changes seen have contributed to a safe yet competitive race. We do note that a number of horses appeared very tired towards the end of the race. We will examine this in preparing our report for the British Horse Association and Aintree on the whole meeting.
“We are grateful to Aintree and the BHA for working with us and making the improvements and we think that this constructive dialogue is the best way to improve the welfare of racehorses.”