TOP jockey Katie Walsh has been criticised by a children's charity after claiming that racehorses are looked after "better than some children".
Ms Walsh was responding to criticism that the Aintree Grand National race was dangerous and cruel to animals.
Two horses died in last year's race, leading for calls for it to be scrapped and prompting a series of changes for this Saturday's run.
Ms Walsh, who finished third last year and who is among the favourites to win this year's Grand National, said those who think horse racing is brutal do not understand the sport. She aims to become the first female jockey to win the race.
Her brother, Ruby, has won the Grand National twice.
She said: "Anyone who gets up on Christmas Day and mucks out loves animals. Sure, it's a dangerous sport.
"But every night, all over the world, a lot of horses are left out in fields starving.
"These horses are so well looked after. Better than some children, to be honest with you."
Claude Knights, director of UK child welfare charity Kidscape, said comparing the two was not appropriate.
She said: "Obviously we have a duty of care to look after animals but it doesn't compare to the duty of care we have for our children.
"I don't think making comparisons helps either cause."
Several changes have been made to the Aintree course this year following the deaths of two horses.
Changes include fences being softened, the start being moved to further away from the grandstand and a system put in place to be able to water the entire course to avoid the ground being too fast.
There will also be an increase in the numbers of horse-catchers and run-off areas where loose horses can be round up.
Ms Walsh told 'Radio Times': "Any changes that make it safer are a good thing, but I hope they leave it at this and don't change anything else. (© Daily Telegraph, London)