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A humane sport

• It is with great regret that I find cause to write this letter. The Grand National, one of the most spectacular sporting events in the world, has been marred by the deaths of two horses. Anyone involved with horses or horse racing deeply regrets the loss of these two precious animals.

I use the word 'precious' not in monetary terms, but in terms of the endearment felt by all connections for these magnificent athletes. While the loss of these animals is hard to bear, it is further compounded by the vicious attacks that the racing industry regularly sustains from a number of animal-welfare groups who, with the help of certain elements of the media, jump on such tragic events and promote them as being the norm, rather than the exception.

Only two in every 1,000 runners in Britain result in a fatality -- that is 0.2pc. This is a hard fact that will undoubtedly be overshadowed by the morbid headlines that will inevitably feature in the newspapers over the coming days.

It saddens me greatly to think that the general public would be misled to such a degree that they might turn against a sport that puts the welfare of horses first and foremost.

Those who protest against horse racing seem to be totally uneducated about the true manner in which these animals are raised and treated. From the moment they exit the womb their every need is met and they are kept at the peak of health, fitness and contentment.

Sadly, there will always be deaths in racing. When you have a half-tonne animal travelling at speed, then injuries can result. Horses can break a leg as easily frolicking in the field with their pals as they can on the racecourse. But on the racecourse they are treated much faster than if the injury occurred at home.

Given the tragic deaths on Saturday, I feel that the treatment of racehorses will again be completely misrepresented by a noisy, ill-informed minority.

Sarah O'Sullivan
Rathkeale, Co Limerick

Irish Independent