Letter from the editor: Re-evaluating the Grand National

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The Independent Online

Thanks to all of you who wrote in response to my letter of Monday, in which I explained that I’d re-evaluated my view of the Grand National after the shocking sight of the corpses of two horses that fell, fatally, in Saturday’s race.

Predictably, I suppose, the overwhelming majority of correspondents disapproved of the race - it’s generally those who feel strongly against something who are moved to write in - but few wanted it banned, and almost all made suggestions which would make it safer.

Bob Carr of Gosport pointed out that the horses that died were both 100-1 shots. “Perhaps consideration should be given to including only those horses which really do have a chance of winning,” he wrote. Many of you suggested fewer runners. “A smaller field, and horses that can do the distance would reduce the spectacle, but to hell with the spectacle. If you want a spectacle with blood, go to Spain and watch a bullfight.”

And others felt that we should be more honest about the race and its risks. Steward Ellett expressed this view eloquently. “The BBC’s coverage of the Grand National was guilty of sanitising the death of two horses,” he wrote. “Clare Balding said ‘I am sad to report that there have been two equine fatalities.’ Before and after that report, they were referred to as horses. The use of equine makes it sound less than a tragedy.”

I’m sorry I can’t do justice to all your letters, but a further selection on this subject appears today in our @i column on page 14. Meanwhile, I’ve got to wash and brush up, ready to meet...you! It’s the first of our parties for i readers tonight. It’s a bit like a blind date: I’ll be the one wearing a red rose and holding a copy of i!