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RSPCA raises concern over blinkers issue.

Byline: Jon Lees

THE PARTICIPATION of blinkered horses in the Martell Grand National is to be raised by the RSPCA following the problems caused by Paddy's Return at the Canal Turn, writes Jon Lees.

Though relieved that no horses died or were injured during the race, the welfare organisation's equine consultant David Muir has identified areas where horse safety could be improved.

"I will be writing to the Jockey Club about the issues of loose horses, blinkers, and horses racing four and a half miles in heavy going, from an exhaustion point of view," he said yesterday.

"Blinkered horses do create problems in these circumstances when they continue in the race.

"When they change direction they don't see danger on either side, so consequently they can create havoc, as happened with Edmond and Paddy's Return on Saturday."

Muir, who was on the course with other RSPCA inspectors, admitted he raised no objections to the race taking place in the conditions because he knew injuries were unlikely to occur with the ground how it was.

"Jump racing takes place in the winter, so heavy going is not something that's not happened before.

"Heavy going was to our advantage. If the going had been good or good to firm and the same set of circumstances had happened, we would probably have had fatalities.

"But in such a big event it can turn out to be something of a fiasco. I didn't

enjoy watching it one bit."

But, faced with similar circumstances in the future, Muir said he would probably act differently.

"On reflection, in the same circumstances, I would be thinking about changing my stance in future, not because I thought horses were likely to be killed or suffer lower leg trauma, but because it would be too much to ask horses to go around that course over four and a half miles."

He added: "The jockeys played their part in this race. McCoy and Walsh brought their horses in. They didn't abuse them. They were thinking of animal welfare. We're always criticising these guys but this time I actually think they saved the day."
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 10, 2001
Words:353
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Next Article:Aintree chief says row will not affect National `one iota' Public will keep faith in world's No. 1 race -RHT chairman.


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