On 13th April 2024, the Grand National Race, the most infamous horseracing event in the UK where horses are forced to run and jump high fences in the 4.3-mile Aintree racecourse in the north of England, will take place again, despite last year’s event was interrupted by animal rights activist of the organisation Animal Rising.  The Grand National Meeting takes place for several days but in the main race, 34 horses are forced to run through obstacles such as drops, ditches, and sharp turns.

This year, Animal Rising stated that they would not repeat their action, which last year gathered lots of publicity, and 118 activists were arrested. The activists claimed it was a great success as they designed the action as a press-grabbing exercise.

The Grand National has been the subject of much criticism by animal protection groups in recent years, not only because of the stress it causes to the horses but also for the many fatalities that occur during the inhumane race. According to the Guardian, on the day of the 2023 protest, there was the death of Hill Sixteen after a first-fence fall, as well as Dark Raven in a race earlier on the card. Altogether, four horses died in last year’s festival.  

Since 2000, 65 horses have died at the Grand National Festival, either during the race or afterwards when they were killed because of the injuries they sustained. From these, 16 horses have been killed in the main Grand National Race, 21 horses have been killed on the Grand National course in other races held during the three-day Grand National Meeting, and 28 horses have been killed on the Mildmay course during the Grand National Meeting.

The cruelty is not confined to the racecourses. As “The Dark Side of Horse Racing” by BBC One’s Panorama showed (featuring undercover footage from the animal rights group Animal Aid from 2021), when horses used for racing get too old or stop performing well enough, they are often sent to slaughter. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.