“Sandy Thomson has reiterated his stance against animal rights activists who disrupted the 175th running of the Grand National on Saturday, and urged the authorities to take ‘a much firmer stance’,” said Thomson.
“I stand by what I say, they are totally ignorant about anything to do with horses,” Thomson added. “We are getting fed up in this country and somebody’s got to start doing something about these people.”
Thomson believes that the delays caused by the protestors were a major reason for the race’s total of three fallers and five unseated jockeys over the first two fences. He stated, “I think horses got very wound up and, oddly, not having a parade didn’t help the situation. The jockeys get on the horse and then they have got to parade before going on to the course, to settle them down.”
Thomson expressed his concern about the rushed preparation and hyper atmosphere caused by the protestors, stating, “Everybody was quite hyper and it doesn’t help the horse at all. People can turn round and say that’s a load of rubbish, but it’s not a load of rubbish. That’s why we have red hoods, blinkers and cheekpieces and things, just to help keep them in the best frame of mind possible.”
Thomson also criticized the MPs for their lack of action in addressing the issue of animal welfare, stating, “The other thing, and this is what the MPs have got to work out – you keep hearing that half their mailbag is to do with animal welfare. Well, if they really want to deal with animal welfare, they need to sort out where there is real cruelty and the RSPCA will tell you where it is, but they don’t want to hear it – they don’t want to be educated.”
Thomson acknowledged the challenges faced by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) in dealing with protests and emphasized the need for pro-active measures within the racing industry. He stated, “The BHA are in a very difficult situation and I do believe that we in racing, or field sports, or whatever, have to be pro-active. I know it is very difficult because the people who know don’t want to get involved. They are trying their best, but it is a desperately difficult thing to get across, all the welfare checks that are done.”
“Peaceful protest is fine, nobody has a problem with that, but you should not be able to go out and ruin other people’s entertainment. They have no welfare of horses at heart. It goes to the complete issue of the thing – education.”