For the first time in years I actually watched the Grand National last weekend. The build up, the interviews, the parade of horses was, at least, certainly pleasant viewing. I began to understand the sheer beauty, strength and strange majesty attached to the horses as they were displayed or walked past.And then the race. Forty runners of which only fifteen finished. Two horses having to be despatched due to the sheer difficulty of immobilising them when in treatment. It took the shine off the whole occasion for me and made me reflect on whether we could do better. Instead of trumpeting the magnificence of Beechers Brook or The Chair perhaps we should concede that the challenge that the race provides for many of the horses is just not worth the risk. After all , these beasts are some of the best!
It made me reflect also on what would be our attitudes if we set up the "fences" in the steeplechase event at the forthcoming Olympic Games to impossible heights and caused accidents to the competitors. Outcry, inquiries, protests and undoubted change!! The thought that anything should happen as the pressing mass of people approach the start in this coming weekend's London Marathon might similarly cause some reflection! Could it be that there's more than a little extra concern exercised toward such occasions? Could it be that the Grand National involves animals and money? No, not entirely because I imagine the owners of the unfortunate horses concerned are absolutely devastated and had every belief beforehand that their animal was capable of the challenges to be faced. So what is it? A spectacle that's gone a step too far? I'd like to think so and that good sense and a love for horses might yet get the mix right.