The Not So Grand National

Apr 10, 2011 by

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The photograph above shows an aerial view of a part of the Grand National racecourse at Aintree yesterday. Those of you who didn’t watch or were otherwise unaware of this race might be wondering what the red circle contains, so it’s only fair to say that there are polarised views about this.

In plain English, the red circle shows tarpaulins surrounding a dead or dying horse – I’m not sure which one, but it’s either the horse that ran on a sweltering hot day and then broke its neck, or it’s the horse that broke its back in another fall. Whichever unfortunate creature it was, it’s a terribly distressing sight for anyone, whether or not you’re a fan of this kind of horse racing, but as far as BBC commentator Mick Fitzgerald was concerned, it was “an obstacle”. Ah, what different worlds we live in.

You can read more about this race and see photographs of the sheer carnage involved for horses and riders on this detailed Daily Mail link, so I’ll make my own contribution as brief as possible. A BBC spokesman stated, with reference to the horses that had died from a broken back and a broken neck that, “During the race and the re-run this was covered with as much sensitivity as possible.”

On the vexed question of what The Man describes as sensitivity, we learn that the winning jockey, Jason Macguire, has been handed a five day ban for excessive use (as opposed to?) of the whip on Ballybriggs, the winning horse, who needed to be doused in water then given oxygen after the ordeal that left two other pitiful, broken ‘obstacles’ littering the course.

Accidents will happen in any sport, even bowls, but to my mind, yesterday’s events were truly shameful and by that, I include the way the BBC defended their coverage with their liberal use of euphemisms. Still, flogging a dead horse is in the Great British Tradition of the welfare of animals coming a very poor second to what the majority of us would term civilised values, so I’m sure these appalling spectacles are set to continue for a good while yet.

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My grateful thanks to my friends Emma and Tracie for bringing the above to my attention.

Other Posts You May Be Interested In

Mindscape Blog Tagged with: BBCflogging a dead horseGrandGrand National racecoursehorsehorse racingMick FitzgeraldneckphotographsensitivityThe Not So Grand National

About the author

Dennis Price is a classical scholar and former archaeologist; he is also a writer, speaker and broadcaster, who lives in the West of England among the enchanted and sometimes unnerving relics of Britain's past. Regarded as an expert on Stonehenge, he is also the author of The Missing Years of Jesus and is co-author of Ancient Code.
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