Lilbitluso, a 10-year-old gelding, was euthanised after falling at the Canal Turn fence on the first day of the 2018 Grand National Festival. More deaths are likely to follow, as fatal injuries such as broken legs and backs are common in horse racing.
At 4.5 miles, the Grand National is one of the longest races in the world – and one of the most controversial. The risk factor is what makes it famous, and every year, horses pay with their lives, sustaining horrific and often fatal injuries at notorious fences such as The Chair, Becher’s Brook, and Canal Turn. Every time that horses are forced to jump these excessively high obstacles, it puts tremendous pressure on their slender front legs, resulting in broken necks, backs, and legs. Many suffer heart attacks on the course or develop debilitating medical conditions, including bleeding lungs and gastric ulcers.
When horses get too old or stop performing well enough to be profitable, they’re often “retired” and sent to slaughter. Animal Aid estimates that around 1,000 horses from the racing industry are killed in abattoirs in Britain every year and turned into dog food or cheap meat. Others face horrific live-export journeys to Europe.