The 2018 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse will once again see Britain’s leading equine welfare organisations and charities come together to highlight the welfare factors which affect Britain’s horses.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will be joined by the RSPCA, World Horse Welfare, British Horse Society and Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) under the banner of The Horse Comes First at the three day meeting, which begins today, to host an information stand for racegoers at Aintree.
Over 140,000 people attended across the three days last year, and those attending in 2018 will have the chance to find out more about the important work done by each of the organisations in relation to equine welfare.
Representatives from each of the organisations will be on hand to chat and answer questions on both the high standards of equine welfare within British racing and other horse sports, as well as the wider issues which have an impact on the equine population of the country.
The Horse Comes First marquee will be located adjacent to the Red Rum Garden which overlooks the Parade Ring and will be open across all three days of the Randox Health Grand National Festival.
Racegoers will also have a chance to meet and greet former Grand National winners for the first time, which will be, located next to the Horse Comes First Marquee, and see a selection of former winners in the RoR parades taking place each day before racing.
Gemma Stanford, Welfare Director at The British Horse Society said:
“As the UK’s largest equestrian charity and education provider we are very supportive of the measures that Aintree have taken to improve the safety and welfare of horses taking part during the Grand National meeting.
“On Saturday the attention of the world will be on the elite equine athletes lining up for the Grand National but we mustn’t forget the thousands of other unwanted and neglected British horses that are suffering and in desperate need of the help of the BHS and other equine welfare organisations. We are very grateful to Aintree for the opportunity to reach out to racegoers."
John Baker, North West Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, said:
“We are delighted that the leading equine welfare organisations will be represented on The Horse Comes First stand at the Randox Health Grand National Festival.
“Horse welfare is of paramount importance to all of us at Aintree and within racing more widely. This stand gives us a chance to promote not only the high standards of care within horseracing, but also the excellent work undertaken by the other charities and organisations representing the wider equine population.”
The RSPCA's racing consultant David Muir said:
"Our aim is to make racing as safe as possible for horses and working with the BHA there have been some significant changes to courses, fences and the rules to reduce the risks and improve welfare.
"Our team looks forward to meeting racegoers at the stand this year to explain our work improving racehorse welfare and also rescuing hundreds of horses from neglect and cruelty each year."
World Horse Welfare Chief Executive, Roly Owers, said:
“Collaboration is such an important aspect of our work and so we greatly value the opportunity to once again partner with our sister charities as part of the Horse Comes First Stand at Aintree. Good equine welfare lies at the heart of all responsible horse sport, including racing, and we look forward to chatting to many of the visitors to the Grand National meet over the next few days, with the help our rescue pony, Hercules.”
Di Arbuthnot, Chief Executive of RoR, said:
"RoR, as British racing’s official equine charity, regularly work alongside World Horse Welfare and the RSPCA, with our shared common goal of protecting and promoting the welfare of former racehorses. Working together with these two charities at Aintree is therefore a reflection of our day to day working relationship and it provides a great platform and opportunity to talk to racegoers on a range of horse welfare related topics.
“The Grand National meeting also features a parade of former racehorses showcasing the work of RoR in helping more and more horses find fulfilling second careers after racing.”
Robin Mounsey, spokesperson for The Horse Comes First, said:
“British racing is proud of the welfare standards that exist within the sport, and of our good working relationship with the recognised welfare organisations. We work together to make racing safer and we are looking forward to speaking to the racing public about this at the iconic Grand National festival.”