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Grand National isn't cruel, it's an institution

I WRITE as an angered follower of the Grand National and National Hunt racing. All the past week, all there seems to have been in the papers are digs at this great sporting event, demanding it be made easier or be canned altogether. They do not know what they are talking about.

The Grand National has been an institution for nearly 200 years and it sickens me to think that it could be ruined by people who don't know the first thing about horseracing.

Animal Aid compared the National to bullfighting. Bullfighting is a terrible tradition with the sole purpose of killing a bull.

The Grand National does not set out to kill horses: it sets out to enthrall, entertain and, in some cases, inspire. The National has always put safety first, as shown by the numerous modifications over the years to improve the horses' wellbeing, but the two unfortunate deaths in this year's race are reminders that there are, indeed, risks - like every other race and sporting event, for that matter.

If Aintree is to make changes to the course to help lower the chances of fatalities, I pray that they don't reduce the size of the fences, or the number of runners.

The problem lies in the slopes. The fences are sloped on the take-off side to make negotiating them easier, but they are sloped so much that both horses and jockeys aren't respecting them enough and thus continue at them at a fast pace, which leads to falls.

PETER HANNAN

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