Grand National

So, I was watching the Grand National live from Aintree last weekend. Did you see that? That was some finish, wasn't it? Congratulations to Neptune Collonges. Fantastic ride!

I don't know about you, but I'm not much of a betting fan - I've tried it in the past but, being crap, tend to keep it very low key these days - nor am I that much of a racing fan - oh, I'll go when asked, it is after all a great day out if the weather stays fine, and I might watch a race on the telly from time to time - but in a past life I was a bit of horseman and I do like a good steeplechase. And the Grand National is certainly that. On Saturday it was an amazing steeplechase.

Unfortunately, there were a couple of casualties this year. This is sad without a doubt; fine horses they were, and fine horses they will always be.

On a personal level, the fatalities were grist for the mill of a friend of mine who is all for banning the race, if not the sport. Even so, I do find his position more than a little irrational, as my message to him below shows (the message was part of a little online spat we had):

Joking apart, of course it's tragic when one of God's creatures is harmed, but fatal accidents happen in all walks of life, and virtually all sports.

Your comments seem to have you pegging me as some kind of horse butcher with no sense of the value of life. That isn't true, but go ahead take your pot shots, have your sport, I have a thick skin. I know what kind of person I am, and what kind of person I'm not.

My point just in case you might be interested in reining in your indignation long enough to listen, is that the time and effort of the campaigners' might be better directed elsewhere. It seems that energy expended in railing against a horse race - possibly the most famous of all horse races, enjoyed by millions around the world - on the off chance that one of the horses may or may not be killed, is more than a little misdirected. Better surely to focus on decrying the true atrocities in our world, and lord knows there are enough of them to concentrate the mind and shake the heart.

You could denounce any of the oppressive regimes currently crushing the dreams and human rights of its people, under the guise of whatever name they're giving to their facist greed and ruthless meglomania.

You could campaign for and support one of the many worthy causes established by like-minded individuals. My own choices include Amnesty International and Save the Children.

If the rights of animals is your thing, then fine, but choose a  cause that's worthy of your convictions; Peta maybe, or one of the many charities that dedicate themselves to rescuing animals that have suffered terribly from abuse at the hands of their owners.

But race horses? Come on; bred for purpose, pampered and spoilt rotten, and for doing something they love: the big lumps live better than I do! And if the question is on your lips, yeah they love it. They live for it - ask anyone who's spent some time around horses - and unfortunately sometimes they die for it too. A damn shame to be sure, and something to be sad about. But a reason to ban a horse race? I don't think so.

And maybe there's something else here as well. All creatures will die one day, and in the nature of things, many seemingly before their time. I don't want to die of course, but if it was my time and I was given the option of dying doing the thing I love best, I'd probably take it. Wouldn't you?

Well, wouldn't you?


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