The English Grand National steeplechase will never be able to escape attacks from animal rights groups with an average close to two deaths a year due to injuries during the famed race.  Katie Walsh, the closet woman jockey to winning the Grand National finishing 3rd last year, defended the race explaining horse casualties are bound to happen.

In an interview with the Radio Times Walsh talked about the growing regulations and the unfortunate fate for some horses. 

"Any changes that make it safer are a good thing, but I hope they leave it at this and don't change anything else. I hope to God there are no accidents this year, but these things happen, and they are horses at the end of the day."

She explained,  "I don't mean that in a cruel way, but to see John Thomas McNamara get a horrible fall at Cheltenham..for the minute he's gone from the neck down, and that's a different deal altogether in my eyes."

John Thomas McNamara was an amtuer jocky who took a terrible fall at the Cheltenham Festival this year leaving him paralysed  from the neck down. 

Walsh went on to address criticism about the horse's well being and affirmed, "These horses are so well looked after. Better than some children, to be honest with you. I don't read the criticism because it's not worth it. And at the end of the day it would be a lot worse if it had been two jockeys who lost their lives. I think everyone should remember that." 

Walsh feels critics need to look at the big picture when it comes to these animals and that generally being a racehorse only brings good. 

"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."

Katie Walsh is an Irish jockey who, in 2012, came third in that year's Grand National on Seabass, giving her the highest finish for a female competitor.Google Images