Was Norwich pub the Plasterers Arms right not to show the Grand National?

Horses going over a jump at the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool. Picture: Mike Egert

Horses going over a jump at the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A Norwich pub's decision not to show the Grand National has raised questions over the ethics of steeplechase racing.

The Plasterers Arms decided not to show the Grand National. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The Plasterers Arms decided not to show the Grand National. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2011

The Plasterers Arms on Cowgate chose not to show the famous race on Saturday in silent protest against the event.

Craig Maskell, the pub's manager, said of the race: 'It's pretty barbaric, it's not something I want in the pub.

'I used to live in Newmarket and I know horse racing and what goes with it.

'I'm not opposed to horse racing but with steeplechase there is a lot more chance of accidents to horses and humans.'


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Mr Maskell said it was the third year a row the pub had declined to show the Grand National.

He said customers were more accepting of the decision this time around than in previous years.

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Mr Maskell said: 'Last year we had a really mixed response for not showing it and some customers were getting legitimately angry because of it.

'But it's not really in the ethos of what this pub is.

'We show football but we're not a Rileys that shows all sports.'

All 40 horses and their riders came back unhurt after Saturday's Grand National at Aintree, and though three horses fell they were able to continue after getting back up.

The race is the blue-ribband event of the three-day Aintree Festival, which organisers have tried to make safer in recent years.

Although the main event has now avoided equine fatalities for the past five years, six horses died in support races at the festival last year.

David Hunter, chief executive at Fakenham Racecourse, which runs steeplechase events, said he could not understand the pub's decision.

He said: 'I'm absolutely shocked that a pub would want to alienate itself from so many customers. The Grand National is one of the truly great spectacles across any sport. It's a very strange stance for a public house to take.'

A British Horseracing Authority spokesman said: 'The Randox Health Grand National is a fantastic race enjoyed by millions of people in the UK and hundreds of millions around the world. Safety for horses is the top priority of everyone involved in horse racing and that motivated £1.5 million worth of evidence-based changes to the course including the fences after the 2012 running.

'There have been no fatalities in the last five runnings of the Grand National, and in 2017 all 317 runners who competed across the three days returned home safe.

'We continue to carefully review both the Grand National and Mildmay courses at Aintree to ensure these are as safe as possible.'

The spokesman said horses were far more likely to sustain an injury in a field at home than at the races.

He said: 'While you can never remove risk completely from any sport, the fatality rate in British Racing is 0.19% of all runners per year and studies 'That rate is down a third over the last 20 years and the sport will keep doing everything possible to see that downward trend continue.'

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