Editing of Grand National is unforgivable

The death of two horses provoked outrage from animal rights groups but there's another reason why people should be angry

    Neptune Collonges was the big winner on the day but his victory was overshadowed by two greater losses [GETTY]

    We watch sport for the good, the bad and the ugly and like it regardless of all these things.

    Football is a prime example. Whether it is an exquisite goal, terribly injury, questionable refereeing decision of managerial outburst – we consume football completely and entirely. We want to see every piece of action available to us, often in super slow mo or from a multitude of angles.

    Perhaps the reason for this desire is because sport often echoes the highs and lows of life. You win some, you lose some.

    The humanity of sport means broadcasters should never cut out the action or hide the truth of an event. There should be no censorship in sport.

    As I watched the Grand National at Aintree on Saturday I felt sick. As a kid I remember placing bets with my family and screaming in excitement in front of the TV to see whether my horse could finish in a place. However, on this occasion, I found myself disgusted by this sporting spectacle.

    The sight of horses cracking as they failed to clear early fences and jockeys curled up in balls to escape the power of crunching hooves was not sport in my eyes.

    While the finish was as exciting as you are going to get in such a long race, it was rightly heralded a dark day for racing.

    Like the 2011 edition, two horses not only failed to make it around the course, but failed to make it all together.

    However, if you were watching the event on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) you would have been ignorant of this as the channel neglected to inform us of this minor detail.

    The Grand National didn’t annoy me because there were too many horses, because the jumps were too high, the course was too long or that horses and jockeys were injured. Although these are valid reasons against the race in its current form. It made me angry because it was a lie. What we saw on TV was only half the story.

    It is the editing of the Grand National that is unforgiveable.


    As we watch horses out in front getting cheered on by the crowd, horses lay broken around the course waiting for that lethal injection. The cameras do not for one moment linger on the carnage left on the course - instead they jump to the victorious celebrations that surrounded winning horse Neptune Collonges and trainer Paul Nicholls. We see the smiles around the paddock but do not hear the cries inside the ambulances.

    On the BBC people rejoice only a few yards away from where other peoples’ horses lay dead.

    For a developed nation, covering a sporting event in this one-sided manner is patronising for the viewer.

    If the Grand National is to be taken seriously broadcasters should show us all the action, the truth.

    "While making the race safer is the best we can hope to happen to such an established and profitable event, the lie of the 2012 race is the reason I wouldn’t be upset if it trotted away into the sunset for good"

    Sport is not reality television! We don’t edit a football match so why should we do it for a horse race?

    There are lots of reasons why people are falling out of love with the National. Horse lovers immediately cringe at the dense field and the fact most horses are blinded as they attempt to jump fences with drop landings. People who really cared for horses wouldn’t let them anywhere near the event.

    Even commentator and race lover Clare Balding complained about the course and jumps following this year’s race. Before the event, Balding was one of the first people to point out that Synchronised didn’t look up for it. She was more right than she ever would have wanted to be.

    The Gold Cup winner had already unseated jockey Tony McCoy and appeared uncomfortable when shown the first fence. Synchronised and According to Pete both suffered falls at the infamous Becher’s Brook and had to be put down.

    The Grand National is fascinating because there are as many reasons for the race to continue as they are reasons to exterminate it. It is exciting, historic, colourful – it is greedy, risky and brutal.

    While making the race safer is the best we can hope to happen to such an established and profitable event, the lie of the 2012 race is the reason I wouldn’t be upset if it trotted away into the sunset for good.

    If celebrations must be had so close to dead horses, at least these fatalities should be revealed to a global audience in an honest and open way.

    Even those who think the National is worth the risk to horses should value the truth of an event.

    This isn’t Big Brother or Keeping Up with the Kardashians – the Grand National is a competitive spectacle that should be covered in all its gory detail.

    And then we’ll see how long it lasts...

    Joanna Tilley is a freelance journalist working with Al Jazeera on the Sport website. She has worked at Sky News, Sky Sports News and LBC Radio.

    Follow her on Twitter (@joannatilley) or her website, http://mythoughtonsport.blogspot.com/

    Al Jazeera is not responsible for the content of external websites.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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