The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

The Grand National should be kept.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/24/2015 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 973 times Debate No: 77932
Debate Rounds (1)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




The Grand National argument

    1. First of all I would just like to tackle the main issue head on in this opening statement. The crux of the argument is centred around the treatment of the horses that take place before and during the Grand National. It is often said that the horses themselves in the preparation period before the race and throughout their racing carers are treated better than most children, their physical condition and welfare must be at a constant peak to achieve the best results come race day. During the race the horses undergo a tough 4.5 mile course, contrary to popular belief the horses actually enjoy the physical exertions of the Grand National and competing with other horses, this is also aided by the friendship built up with the Jockey and the animal.

    1. Secondly I would like to address the heritage and the history of the Grand National. The Grand National itself has been one of the longest standing Horse racing competitions in the world, it has been running for 175 years in total, last year audiences around the world peaked at 8.9 million and this year it was 6 million with 75,000 members travelling to the ground to watch. Around the country British horse racing generated a total of £570 million from licensed betting shop and £710 million in total combined with licensed and unlicensed betting shops. As you can see this is but a small proportion of the economics generated in total not just from the Grand National but also British horse racing as a whole.

    1. Lastly I would like to address statistics of the fatality rate of the horses. 90,000 race horses compete each year in British horse racing as a whole and of those 90,000 horses there is just a 0.02% fatality rate. With these statistics it impossible and illogical to end a single race that has stood for 175 years as a result of this.


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Every year in the UK in the run-up to the world’s most famous steeplechase, the debate surfaces again as to whether the Grand National should be banned.

Interestingly, this issue completely divides opinion in the equestrian community.

On the one hand there are those who say the Grand National isn’t all that different from other forms of National Hunt and specifically jumps racing, so if you ban this, you may as well ban it all – including point-to-point. Also – other forms of equestrian sport including all elements of three-day eventing are regarded as cruel by some – so why pick on jump racing?

And on the other side of the fence, if you’ll pardon the pun, are those who argue that the big race’s death toll is far too high and that it should be banned. UK lobbying group Animal Aid, for example, says the three-day Aintree meeting in April, whose high point is the Grand National, has killed 32 horses in 10 years. The charity points out that Aintree is the UK’s second deadliest racecourse after Cheltenham and calls for the race to be banned in its entirety – and organises campaigns to this effect each year before the race.

aintree-grand-nationalBut the Grand National is big business in the UK and around the world. In the UK alone, an estimated £150 million (NZ$300 million) is gambled on the race whilst the worldwide TV audience is estimated at over 600 million people. It is clearly well-loved in the UK and in countless other countries.

Racing also attracts big sponsorship from big companies including bookmakers. Crabbies Ginger Beer sponsors the National itself, for example, whilst most major bookmakers sponsor various meetings and races. For example, the bookmaker 32Red sponsors Goodwood, whilst William Hill sponsors the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. A ban on the race could jeopardise this kind of sponsorship.

It was the 2012 race that really sparked the most recent negative publicity after two horses were killed for the second year in succession. This caused a media storm – helped by the fact that one of the equine fatalities was that year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised.

After the race, Aintree Racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced several changes including modifications to the design of the fences and landing areas. There were also changes made to the starting position and the extension of a “no-go” zone, depicted by a line on the track.

Aintree and the BHA also announced a three-year research and development programme to look at alternative fence materials and designs. And after a previous review process in 2011, landing areas were smoothed out on various obstacles. There was also investment in improved irrigation, in an attempt to create the safest ground possible.

The new fences were first trialled in December of 2012 and the modifications were welcomed by the UK RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). And after the 2014 running, the overall improvements were hailed by World Horse Welfare’s chief executive after the second consecutive running of the race without fatalities.

In the run up to the 2015 Grand National which will be held next April 11, the debate will no doubt surface yet again. But human nature being what it is, the debate becomes fiercest after casualties, and if there are none again in next year’s race, National Hunt enthusiasts and all those who love the National will no doubt breathe a collective sigh of relief again.

Aintree racecourse.

Aintree racecourse. © Roger May

Without the Grand National, National Hunt racing would surely lose the jewel in its crown. But at the same time, the National is, unequivocally, a highly dangerous race and, whatever changes are made; it will cause equine fatalities again in future years. But then again, the same can be said for many other forms of horse sport. So whether the Grand National should be singled out is something of a moot point.

The UK’s ban on fox hunting has caused similar raging debate on both sides of the lobby, though in this case the welfare of the fox was paramount in the eyes of the protestors rather than the horses chasing it.

In the end, race organisers will hope to be able to point to the Grand National’s statistics and be able to show that it is hardly any more dangerous than any other big jumps race from around the world. On the other side of the debate, the animal rights activists who would like to see it banned single out the race not only because it has proved so dangerous in the past – but also because it’s the highest profile race in jump race anywhere in the world.

The debate will continue from both lobbies – and not least amongst the equestrian community whose views seem diametrically opposed; it’s either a “love it or hate it” type of thing, it seems.

Debate Round No. 1
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by sara_ann_dee 3 years ago
I count not include your sources in my vote because the rules for voting state that I may not base my vote off of something that happened in the comment section - I apologize.
Posted by LouisMuston123 3 years ago
Here are the web addresses that I got my facts and figures from:


1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by sara_ann_dee 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Both sides did not have a spelling or grammatical error. Both sides were respectful to each other and kept the debate formal, mature, and organized. CON was the only side who cited a source - so that section goes in favor of CON's side. CON also, overall had more evidence to support his side, and pushed me to believe his side more than PRO's. He was successful at showing the bad side of keeping the grand national.