The Grand National in Liverpool, England, is a horse racing institution nearly 200 years in the making, full of pageantry, glitz, drama, and horses getting killed. That tradition continued this week, when the fortuitously named 33-to-1 shot Rule The World emerged triumphal in the featured race—“a fairy-tale result,” the Telegraph dubbed it—overshadowing the four horses who got totally murked as the result of falls during this beloved annual horse-croaking ritual at spectacular Aintree Racecourse.
“It’s magic,” said Mouse Morris, the trainer of the winning 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, per the Telegraph. He noted that Rule The World would be even better if he hadn’t taken some previous tumbles in steeplechase racing, in which horses run their asses off for, in the case of the Grand National, an exhausting 4 miles, 3.5 furlongs (about 4.4 miles total), during which they hurdle obstacles, which leads to all kinds of excitement in the grandstands but horse deaths and horse maimings. “He had a couple of accidents, he’s had two fractured pelvises, and, before that, I always thought he was the best horse I’d trained,” Morris continued. “I still think I’m right, so how good would he have been with a proper a—- on him.” (Note: That’s “arse,” right? Newspapers have me counting hyphens to know what adult people say, smh.)
It’s a hell of an athletic feat for Rule The World or any other horse to run that course safely, because it’s designed to create perils, and in fact to just maybe kill a horse once every so often. After a total of 30 jumps (check out the Google Images results of the most feared, called Becher’s Brook) the animals are totally spent. The stretch, it’s exciting! Here’s what it looked like at the finish this year:
Elsewhere, the sadistic clownery of the course led to the deaths, in earlier races, of four horses: Gullinbursti and Minella Reception fell into a fence Friday, after Clonbanan Lad and Marasonnien died Thursday. Their deaths bring to 46 the number of horses who since 2000 have died, according to Animal Aid, a group that keeps the tally in hopes people stop killing horses as an avoidable byproduct of springtime entertainment. The group had this to say Saturday after the main race:
Every year Animal Aid’s team watches, with dread, every race so that we can effectively and honestly report what has happened. We find the experience an utterly depressing one, whether or not horses die. And the same questions come to mind each time: Why are horses being subjected to this sadistic obstacle course; and why does it go under the name of sport? A racing world, increasingly on the defensive, insists ever more volubly that ‘the horse comes first’. In reality, these horses come nowhere. When they die from broken necks and broken limbs, those responsible often try to conceal what has occurred – for fear of the damage that could be done to the reputation of their industry, and more profoundly, to the image they have of themselves as responsible, sporting horse lovers.
It’s a gruesome scene when a horse catches a leg on a wall. Just give this 2015 race a few moments, then try to avoid blurting Jesusfuckingchrist at the spill.
After the four horses died this week, protestors yelled slogans at race attendees entering Aintree. The one they favored was “Shame on you,” which is a bit prickish, I find, but justified when people are supporting the spectacle of watching horses get routinely totaled. I prefer their other jab, the simple question, “Is the party really worth it?” Usually parties are! This one, though, no, this one is not, not when horses are such fine and genuinely rad creatures, and not when there are so many other fun things to do at parties besides watch them do flips onto their necks.
Elsewhere at the Aintree, though, the hats were really something this year.