The races has played a crucial role in British summer time calendars for hundreds of years. People are drawn to the races by the lure of champagne, socialising and the potential of a big win. But has horse racing devolved into yet another excuse to carry out that great British pastime of binge drinking? And seperate from all the hats, cravats, magnums of Dom Perignon, is there a hidden darkness to this British sport?
We have all seen the images of scantily clad women rolling around, clutching onto the last drop of champagne in their glass, plastered all over the media these past years. Many feel great sadness about the races’ recent descent into reckless binge drinking. But are these images just the tip of the iceberg, covering a fall into criminality at the course? In 2014 10 arrests were made at the Epsom Derby for drug related offences, theft and violence. Whilst the previous year 16 arrests at the Aintree races were hailed a success, although the offences included assault and drug related crime. Consequently, traditional elegance seems to have been replaced by actions that are not only uncivilized but, more worryingly, sinister.
But do the improper actions of those at the side-lines really compare to the harsh brutality inflicted on the course?
Since 2000, 24 horses have died on the Grand National course and, over the course of the three-day meeting, 42 horses have been killed in that same period – Animal Aid
Beneath this decaying elegant façade lies a dark truth; defenceless animals killed in the name of sport. So is this the beginning of the end of horse racing? And should we be concerned? If the criminal behaviour and brutal treatment of animals is anything to go by then probably not. But many still believe efforts should be made to humanely resurrect this crumbling British tradition.