To Bet Or Not To Bet: Grand National 2014


‘The ultimate test of horse and rider‘ returns this year on Saturday 5th April. Run since the mid-1800s, the Grand National at Aintree comprises a heavy 16 fence course run over 4 miles, featuring notorious jumps such as ‘The Chair’, and ‘Becher’s Brook’.

By Free Betting Online (freebettingonline.co.uk) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Free Betting Online (freebettingonline.co.uk) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sadly, due to the strains of the course, over 70 horses have lost their lives over the history of the Grand National; 14 of these were due to falls at the fence named Becher’s Brook. Dr Kennedy from Anglia Ruskin University uses statistics to argue that the risk of a horse death in the Grand National is as high as 6 horses per 1000. Most horse deaths during the Grand National are a result of falling at difficult fences, acquiring injuries, and having to be euthanised as a result.

The League is an animal charity campaigning for the welfare of animals in the name of sport. In a recent post on the Grand National, The League stated that it was advocating to abolish the race if animal welfare was not made a priority.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) recommends changes to be made to the course following incidents after each race. Such changes have resulted in reduced numbers of fences, optional bypassing, and bettered ground conditions.

By Tbmurray (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Tbmurray (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

2013 saw a race free from casualties, suggesting hope for future races; ‘I was in tears down there’, stated RSPCA’s David Muir, celebrating the safe return of all 40 horses. Many suggest that the ‘softened cores’ of the jumps are to be praised, making them easier to complete if something goes wrong during the jump.

Run by 44 horses this year, Saturday’s race comprises horses named ‘Mountainous’, ‘Our Father’, and ‘Twirling Magnet’. Odds are based on the horses age, experience, and weight. Whether you decide to bet on the Grand National this year is a personal decision; though a decision made by anyone with a care for animal welfare, should be made in light of all evidence.

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