WHIPS, injuries and death were the only sure bets for the Grand National on Saturday.

Every year, we see exhausted animals crash face-first into the ground and career into one another on this deliberately punishing and hazardous course, as if their lives were worthless.

Bred for greed and speed and pushed beyond their natural abilities, it is common and somehow accepted that racehorses will develop debilitating medical conditions, including bleeding lungs, ringbone and gastric ulcers.

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Fatal injuries, including broken necks, backs and legs and heart attacks are also commonplace, and yet the races go on even though many wonderful, sensitive horses are overused and end up paying with their lives, thrown away as if they were nothing more important than betting slips.

The Grand National is a national disgrace that is grand only if you are not a horse or a caring human being.

Ben Williamson, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.