Saturday 14 April 2012

Twelve pound each way on Midge Ure’s Desperate Boat 

There was some deserved upset at the death of some of the horses who fell at this year’s Grand National. There was also some undeserved hyperbole and nonsense.

One facebook status I saw referred to people getting their kicks from animals being worked to death. What?? Trust this: breeding, feeding, training, housing (and much more) a racehorse is an expensive business. And the people who do it love horses like you wouldn’t believe – they are generally prepared to say things like ‘he has a good sense of humour’ about a horse. What they absolutely certainly are not doing is sending their horses out to die. Also, no-one is watching it to see horses die.

So while people are being pompous about it then at least get your point right. Horses fall at show jumping and have to be put down. I am not saying there is nothing wrong with the Grand National. I am not saying that there isn’t something awful about watching a large amount of horses  trying to jump large fences at the same time. I would also refrain from offering the ‘it’s what they are bred for’ defence. Because they are not bread for death. I only bring up the point to illuminate that the horses that die are there because they have been reared specifically for horse racing. Without horse racing they do not exist. An unfortunate side product of horse racing is this: some horses will die.

I will accept the criticisms a lot easier from vegetarians as well. Otherwise coming from people who eat animals bred specifically for their consumption (often having lived a life not fit for a Dickens urchin) it could be seen as hypocritical. Or maybe not – I’ll not lie to you, I haven’t thought through the moral implications of all this hypocritical for carnivores hornets’ nest I’ve created. Basically, I’m not saying it’s as good as, say, the life’s work of Mother Theresa – or even a fairly unmotivated teacher, but the equine casualties that are part of horse racing are balanced out by all the horses bred and maintained by the sport. Or not – maybe – like I say I haven’t necessarily thought this through and agonised over it for hours; basically I like betting on horses and, though I would always prefer no horses die, the death of horses is something that should just be an unfortunate side-effect of horse racing. But, yes, I wouldn’t be devastated if the Grand National were made less of a free-for-all and some fences were  fitted with stairs or something to make it easier.

My other point would be that to infer the danger is a motivating factor for any viewer is, for once, underestimating the general public. People watch the Grand National because people enjoy gambling and watching races. Just like the sport of horse racing, viewers of horse racing could do without the deaths. They aren’t complaining when they need some things gluing together though are they? Unfortunately interesting horse racing involves large, powerful horses jumping over fences. Sometimes that can go wrong and this can cause a leg injury and horses tend not to wear a leg bandage and limp around for a bit; they tend to get shot in the brain with a nail gun by a vet. If you take away the fence, yes, you remove the peril, but you also remove the challenge  and you are just watching some horses run fast. No-one is interested in that, it’s called flat racing and it’s dull as shit.

Without meaning to sound callous, there are bigger things to worry about aren’t there? Which, of course, is the worst counter argument to almost everything. I just don’t think people should be allowed to have opinions on things that have big, docile eyes and generally look a bit sad. I don’t think anyone would be as concerned with the odd vulture dying if once a year 45 vultures were forced to race each other in Liverpool by some small Irish men on their backs.

And because I know you’re all dying to know…no, I didn’t have the winner. But I had third and that just about covered the cost of my bets.


As a Saturday treat here is a picture of …why am I even telling you? It’s so obviously Bart Simpson that it’s not worth saying. Anyway, here is Bart ‘Eat my shirt’ Simpson as drawn today on my iPad. You’re welcome.

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