Horse trainer Sandy Thompson blames death of his Grand National horse Hill Sixteen on animal rights protestors

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The comment comes in the aftermath of the Grand National following the death of a horse on the famous track

A horse trainer has called protestors who interrupted the Grand National “ignorant”. Sandy Thomson has said that the protestors were to blame for the death of a horse at the prestigious event.

The start of the race was delayed by 14 minutes after around 100 protestors from animal rights group Animal Rising made their way to the outskirts of the track. Many were able to get onto the course and had to be forcibly removed by police.

One horse, Hill Sixteen, died during the Grand National after falling at the first fence. This was the third horse fatality at the race meet this year.

Speaking to the BBC, Sandy said: "It was all caused by these so-called animal lovers who are actually ignorant and have absolutely no idea about the welfare of horses"

"There were quite a lot of horses buzzed up. When they got down to the start, nobody quite knew what was happening.”

Mr Thompson added that the delay to the race had an impact on both horses and jockeys. He said: "The starter wanted to get them off as quickly as possible, then the horses were drawn forward then told to get back.

“One of the other things missing was the parade. I think that gives the horses and the jockeys that couple of minutes to gather their thoughts and that didn’t help the situation either."

Following the Grand National, Animal Rising issued a statement reflecting on the deaths of the three horses at Aintree. They said: “Firstly, we want to offer our deepest condolences to anyone connected to Hill Sixteen, Dark Raven, and Envoye Special or impacted by their deaths. The death of the first horse was precisely what Animal Rising’s actions on Saturday aimed to prevent.

“It is a scandal that the British Horseracing Authority cannot acknowledge and accept blame for the horrors of their sport. The fact that neither Envoye Special, Dark Raven, nor Hill Sixteen was mentioned by name in their statement speaks volumes about the importance of these horses to the organisation.

“Horse deaths and injuries are an unavoidable consequence of the way we use animals for sport, not dissimilar to the way we cause billions of animal deaths in our food system. The only way to prevent more harm from coming to these beautiful creatures is by completely reevaluating our connection to them and finding a way of loving them that doesn’t harm them.

“We’d welcome dialogue with Sandy Thomson or Jimmy Fyffe about how to move forwards together and really transform our relationship with horses and, indeed, with all animals and nature.”

They added: “In reality, Hill Sixteen’s death was entirely caused by the fact that horse racing has never, and can never provide, a safe place for these beautiful creatures to live their lives free from harm. The only way to have prevented their death would’ve been if they had never run the race in the first place. Horse racing claims to put animal welfare first but if, as they claim, Hill Sixteen was ‘hyper’ then they should never have been forced to run.

An animal rights protester is apprehended by police officers ahead of the Grand National. An animal rights protester is apprehended by police officers ahead of the Grand National.
An animal rights protester is apprehended by police officers ahead of the Grand National. | AFP via Getty Images

“We are facing a climate and ecological crisis, and our fractured relationship with other animals and nature is at the heart of that. Animal Rising is acutely aware of the deaths of animals, not only on racetracks but in our food system too. The real ignorance here is that of continuing to use and exploit animals when we know this doesn’t represent who we are as people.

“This summer Animal Rising will continue to take action for all life. The only way we’ll stop horses from dying every 2-3 days on racetracks, or the billion for food in The UK, is by transforming our relationship to animals and the natural world.”

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