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14th Apr 2018

Animal rights group PETA call for ITV to stop broadcasting the Grand National

Jack O'Toole

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Foundation have called for ITV to stop broadcasting the Grand National following the death of gelding Lilbitluso on Thursday.

The 10-year-old was euthanised after falling at the Canal Turn fence on the first day of the 2018 Grand National Festival at Aintree.

Festival organisers confirmed the death after the horse was put down humanely on welfare grounds.

“While racing in the Randox Foxhunter’s ChasPe at Aintree, Lilbitluso fell and was quickly attended to by our expert veterinary professionals,” a statement from organisers at Aintree read.

“Sadly the nature of the injury meant it was necessary to put him down humanely on welfare grounds.

“Our sympathies are very much with his owners and the team who cared for him on a daily basis.”

PETA responded asking owners to contact ITV over their coverage and encouraged viewers to try take the Grand National off television.

“At 4.5 miles, the Grand National is one of the longest races in the world – and one of the most controversial. The risk factor is what makes it famous, and every year, horses pay with their lives, sustaining horrific and often fatal injuries at notorious fences such as The Chair, Becher’s Brook, and Canal Turn.

“Every time that horses are forced to jump these excessively high obstacles, it puts tremendous pressure on their slender front legs, resulting in broken necks, backs, and legs. Many suffer heart attacks on the course or develop debilitating medical conditions, including bleeding lungs and gastric ulcers.

“When horses get too old or stop performing well enough to be profitable, they’re often “retired” and sent to slaughter. Animal Aid estimates that around 1,000 horses from the racing industry are killed in abattoirs in Britain every year and turned into dog food or cheap meat. Others face horrific live-export journeys to Europe.

“ITV is broadcasting the Grand National, even though this cruel event kills horses. Please send a message to the company’s chair, Sir Peter Bazalgette, and ask him to take the Grand National off our screens.”

ITV paid around £30m to buy exclusive rights for terrestrial coverage of racing from January 2017, which ended horseracing’s 32-year relationship with Channel 4.