IT is April already and another punishing Grand National is fast approaching.

This race has proved time and time again to lead to many horse fatalities (34 horses were killed at the Aintree event between 2000 and 2011) yet it is allowed to continue each year.

Let’s remind ourselves of last year’s race and the two horses that died – Ornais, who broke his neck, and Dooney’s Gate, who broke his back.

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And let’s also not forget the winner, Ballabriggs, who was so exhausted he needed oxygen.

The racing industry wants the public to believe that betting on horses is just a “harmless flutter”, when racing is actually a ruthless business that treats horses as expendable, profit-making commodities.

Many people who wouldn’t normally bet on horse racing, have a harmless flutter on the Grand National, but there is nothing harmless about a race that routinely inflicts serious injury and death upon the horses that take part.

The Grand National is Britain’s longest horse race – covering four miles and 856 yards. The horses are required to jump 30 formidable obstacles, some which include perilous drops, ditches and sharp turns. Forty horses usually take part – an excessively crowed field, which adds to the risk of collisions and falls.

This so-called sport is kept alive through betting income and course attendance fees. Please don’t back the cruelty, for you it’s a harmless flutter, but horses pay with their lives. They don’t have a choice.

Alison Jermy, Darlington.