Cold-blooded execution at Aintree…..
It was my great misfortune to see this years Grand National. The death of two horses would be horrific enough but the death of Cheltham Gold Cup winner, Synchronised in many ways eptiomised all that is wrong with the race. We are told the horses want to race that this is their life, however, even before the event had started Synchronised had made a bid for freedom. Were a human to behave in a similar way we would rightly adjudge that the person in question didn’t want to do the task that lay in front of them that effective consent had been withdrawn and therefore coercion to proceed was highly immoral (and in many contexts actually illegal). Synchronised should have been withdrawn at that point but wasn’t; no-doubt the allure of doing the ‘Double’ was too much to resist for his owners.
Proponents of the National have had endless opportunities to change the race, to show an inch of compassion, yet every year, after the inevitable horror show, they don’t, instead they insist it must be maintained as it is. It is a minor miracle that the hapless and coerced horses are not joined by their human riders, indeed you feel it is only a matter of time before more human fatalities (there has thus far only been one). If matters are allowed to reach that point then you feel the National will be banned outright without a moments hesitation. However, things should not be allowed to reach that point. If the organisers of the Grand National continue to show such pig-headed intransigence when it comes to the welfare of the animals running the race then they will be proving beyond reasonable doubt that there is no way the race can be run humanely and there will therefore leave little alternative but for the race to be banned outright.
Twitter and indeed the wider world was alive with bitter recrimination from those who bet on the race. Next year you can guarantee the money-spinning machine that drives the horses and riders on as much as the lash applied to the horses hides will be dramatically less well fed. Good. Ethically, there is little to recommend the coercion of sentient beings merely for entertainment purposes. Indeed, the fact it is considered as such is a sad commentary on societal values. Horses, dogs and other animals are commodified in exactly the same way human beings are by the grim mincer of the capitalist machine. Ultimately, state policy and the purpose of the law is to protect the weak, vulnerable and unable to consent from harm and manipulation. This would be a popular ethical precept if applied to human beings but it is something that we must recognise applies to animals with equal force. The Grand National is a national disgrace and today should be the day we realise that and take appropiate action to ensure that never again should we have to see such a horror on our TV screens and have it justified under the spurious pretext of our own ‘entertainment’ and selfish self-gratification.