The issue of horse welfare resurfaces at this time of year when the Grand National is taking place at Aintree. It was particularly relevant this year since we saw the first fatality in the Grand National since 2012. Apparently, Up For Review had died before the vet could even reach the scene after being brought down by Vintage Clouds who fell at the first fence. This first fence can be problematic if sometimes horses start too fast.
What should be remembered however is that the race has probably never been as 'safe'. The graph below shows two contrasting trends from 1970 to 2019. The number of fallers is on the decline and the number of horses being pulled up is on the rise. As time has passed jockeys have improved and the fences have definitely been adjusted in height. This year saw the joint highest number of horses pulled up in the race since 2012.
While it’s never nice to see fatalities in horse racing, the risk cannot be completely removed. As times has progressed this risk definitely has been mitigated. Others may disagree but I do not think this has affected the excitement or appeal of the race.