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Time to readdress the cruel practice of horse racing

The deaths of two horses in the Grand National has refocused attention on the downside of the ancient pursuit of horse racing.

It would surely benefit the sport itself - apart from the long-suffering horses - if we could effectively tackle the cruelties associated with it.

A day at the races, or the odd flutter, can be a fun experience. But racehorses fall victim to a wide range of injuries.

Among the afflictions they may have to endure are ulcerated stomachs, bleeding lungs, and damage to bone and muscle.

Wrongly administered drugs can also cause distress and immense suffering.

And, of course, the use of whips in racing is wide open to abuse, resulting in raw flesh wounds and/or internal injuries.

Racing could be made more animal-friendly by easing pressure on horses. Fences should be lowered to a height that is not overly demanding for the horses.

The whip should ideally be banned altogether, as in Norway, or alternatively, a padded whip - like the one now used in Australia - could replace the flogging instrument that so often brings horse racing into disrepute.

Horse racing will continue to project a negative and disturbing image of itself until the welfare of the horse has been prioritised and properly enshrined in law.

JOHN FITZGERALD

Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports

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