I’ve heard that the RSPCA have said that Bechers is a “killer fence“.
It’s highly debatable whether the RSPCA has any valid role in interfering with a hugely popular sport which champions the majestic performance of thoroughbred horses which are bred to take on the challenge of doing exactly what they are bred to do. The sell-out crowd for Grand National day was 70,291 and the attendance over the three days of what is now a proper racing festival was 153,583.
What does the RSPCA think it is playing at? Their criticism of one particular fence demonstrates their complete ignorance of what, in fact, happened in this fabulously exciting race which produced one of the best finishes in living memory. I remember going as a child in the difficult times in the 1970s when the future of the race was in doubt, not because of problems with the fences but because of lack of interest. The television figures show that that there is no lack of of interest in a fabulously interesting and exciting race which, notwithstanding the RSPCA nonsense, commands more interest than any other horse race in the UK, if not the world.
So, we ban races like this? 1. Synchronised didn’t die at Bechers. He got up – unlike critics I’ve just watched him doing so and jumping on his own (by the way, that’s what horses do) before suffering a fatal injury at a later fence without a jockey on board. 2. According To Pete died because he was brought down. The simple reason for that is that, ironically (take note RSPCA) the reduction in the drop at “killer fence” Bechers encouraged more to go for the left hand side, thereby increasing the chances of horses bumping into each other. I remember times when jockeys (including rank amateurs – no longer allowed – spread wide in order to avoid the drop on the left hand side). The reduction in the drop (and, by the way, the removal of drop fences at Haydock) encourages these problems.
It massively annoys me that an organisation which is supposed to support the welfare of animals can be so stupidly wrong about a sport which is always concerned to emphasise the skill of the horses. They might wish to consider the removal of water jumps from most national hunt courses (especially those on the far side of courses) and the number of serious injuries sustained in hurdle races, let alone those which happen in a field (a majority by comparison with racecourses).
RSPCA – you don’t understand racing and I’m angry about your misunderstanding of why the beautiful horses demonstrate what they’re good at. Flat racing will demonstrate its best over the next few weeks and horses will be worth millions but that’s not what matters. Others will be the apples of their owners’ eyes and will win moderate races (both flat and jumps). Whether they win or not, those who are candidates will enjoy the best of conditions – exactly what you want! If there was no racing, what do you think would happen?