Corach Rambler, a horse with Irish roots, strode home to victory in Saturday's Grand National at Aintree. However, the winner's triumph was ultimately overshadowed by a week of racing marred by controversy, protesting and frankly unwanted attention.
Saturday's showpiece event itself was delayed with protestors breaking onto the track, with plenty of horses returning to the parade ring while the group protesting known as Animal Rising were removed after gluing themselves to fences. When the race did start, horse Hill Sixteen fell at the very first hurdle before unfortunately being put down.
Regardless of the validity of the protester's intentions many commentators and experts within the industry felt that the actions of protesters put undue stress on the horses, ultimately leading to accidents. The trainer and owner placed the blame for Hill Sixteen's death at the feet of the protestors.
While the protestors undoubtedly have valid concerns about safety in horse racing, particularly in races with fields as condensed as the Grand National, this weekend showed that some of their plans aren't fully thought out and may require a more reasoned approach if they're to truly benefit animals.
That very sentiment was quite obvious when Irish horse racing pundit Kevin Blake challenged an Animal Rising representative named Ben in a debate on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning. Blake asked Ben what his plan was for the thousands of race horses in the UK if racing were to be banned tomorrow.
Leaving aside the fact that you'd be removing an industry that employs 20,000 people in rural areas.
There's about 50,000 thoroughbreds in the UK right now I want to know what Ben plans to do with them when he removes their primary purpose? 50,000, Ben. What are you gonna do with them Ben? What are you gonna do with them?
Your protesting on an international stage for an outcome and I want to know what your plan for that outcome is?
It would create the greatest equine welfare crisis and tragedy since World War 1 because thorughbred race horses are not equipped to be lobbed out in a field and forgotten about, these colts would literally kill eachother...without attention they would die slow horrible deaths.
Ben didn't really have answer as you'll hear in the clip below.
You may be interested to hear how an Animal Rising representative responded when I asked him on @bbc5live what their plan was for the 50,000 thoroughbreds in the UK if they achieved their goal of having horse racing banned. Very revealing indeed. #StandUpForRacing pic.twitter.com/GE6RIP8OaL
— Kevin Blake (@kevinblake2011) April 17, 2023
Blake certainly raised some challenging points for the group, with Ben painfully unable to provide any substantiated rebuttal or plans in response to Blake's queries on what might happen to the UK's 50,000 thoroughbreds and the 20,000 people directly employed by the industry if horse racing was ceased.
Until the animal rights group can come up with a more effective and thorough plan to implement admittedly reasonable concerns about the industry, it's difficult to see protestors having a meaningful impact on the Grand National or Racing at large.
SEE ALSO: Grand National Protestors 'Haven't Got A Bloody Clue' As Chaotic Race Scenes Go Viral