Animal rights protesters try to attack Grand National but shoot themselves in the foot in a weird week for racing | The Sun

WHO knew that the story about the Dalai Lama being caught asking a boy to suck his tongue wouldn’t be the weirdest news of the week?

We’ve had it all over the past few days and there is a lot to get through, so I'm going to need your full attention.

First things first, let’s tackle the car crash that was the Tuesday edition of ITV's talk show Good Morning Britain.

The channel invited an animal rights extremist onto the couch to spout rubbish about the ‘cruelty’ of horse racing – just a few days before they broadcast the Grand National around the world. 

Thank goodness, though, that ITV roped in an absolute heavyweight to fight the sport’s corner, that well-known racing sage Dawn Neesom… (who?).

You knew things weren’t going to end well when, having referred to her prep sheet, Dawn’s opening remarks were: “Factually, horse racing is not necessarily a good thing for animals.”


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The activist, Orla Coghlan, has taken more flak on social media over the past few days than your average Lancaster Bomber, so I won’t stick the boot in.

She has her beliefs and they aren’t going to be changed by a racing anorak like me, but it worries me how many fence-sitters out there will be swayed by her bogus information.

And it’s shameful that the bosses at GMB didn’t think to call up one of their colleagues at ITV Racing to come on and give some proper balance to the debate.

I would like to know what groups like 'Animal Rising' expect to happen to the tens of thousands of racehorses in this country if they had their way and the sport was banned?

When asked in a different debate about rehoming ex-racers, one of the nutjobs at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said: “They can roam the fields and look after themselves.”

I’m not sure it has quite registered with these people that racing gives these horses life – they literally wouldn’t exist without the sport. 

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Even at the smallest and most basic of stables, they are cared for around the clock, regularly checked over by vets, live in clean and comfy conditions and are exercised daily.

So when these activists make out the choice facing us is 'horse in field munching grass vs tackling the National fences' they are wrong. It's whether life as a racehorse is better than no life at all.

Meanwhile, the BHA were caught completely on the hop, tweeting out later in the day: “We weren’t offered the opportunity to take part in this debate.”

It's true, they were blindsided so I do have some sympathy – but this sort of stuff happens every year and they should have been prepared, ready to go and put out a few fires at the first whiff of smoke.

Communicating with the public isn’t their strong suit and that was showcased again on Tuesday when they stopped Sean Curran’s horse Aces Full running at Exeter.

The eight-year-old had been off since being pulled up at Stratford in October, but on her return to action she was backed into 9-4 from 14-1.

National picks

IT’S that time of year where I suddenly become Mr Popular and receive messages from people I haven’t spoken to in ages.

They are all after one thing – tips for the Grand National.

I couldn’t tip water out of a bucket for 364 days of the year but I actually have a pretty good record picking out the winner of the ‘Nash’.

Maybe that’s why people won’t leave me alone.

This year I will leave my selections here so I can turn my phone off and watch the racing in peace.

For win purposes, it’s a toss-up between Mr Incredible and Corach Rambler. They are the quirkiest horses in the line-up but I also think the race will suit them both down to the ground.

And if you’re looking for one at a gigantic price, I reckon Diol Ker, who has run a couple of eye-catching races this season, can hit the frame.

Good luck!

But the BHA’s integrity office got on the dog and bone just minutes before the off and made the stewards pull the horse out.

To my knowledge, this was an unprecedented move. I have never seen something like this happen before, and Curran was both furious and bemused.

When asking for clarification on the situation he says he was met with 'a wall of silence’. Where have I heard that before?

All racing fans deserve to know exactly what has gone on here, and the stock BHA line of “we don’t comment on ongoing investigations” won’t cut it.

To top off a barmy few days, Bravemansgame was stopped from running at Aintree at the eleventh hour following a dramatic intervention by the Financial Conduct Authority.

The company of the horse’s co-owner John Dance was recently shut down and is under investigation, and the King George hero was initially given the all clear to run solely in the colours of Bryan Drew.

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But the FCA provided the BHA with 'new evidence, including a court order' and Paul Nicholls was forced to pull the horse out.

This is shaping up to be a massive story and, although details remain very sketchy, it's certainly got people's tongues wagging. Just don't tell the Dalai Lama.


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