SIR – Public support for Aintree’s Grand National race has declined significantly over the last eight years, according to the results of a new NOP opinion poll, commissioned by Animal Aid.

Most people who expressed a clear opinion said that the race is cruel. In an equivalent 2003 poll, most people thought the race was not cruel.

Twenty horses have perished since 2000 on the Aintree course – nine in the Grand National itself. In April 2011, Ornais broke his neck in the big race and Dooneys Gate broke his back. The 2011 deaths caused a media and public outcry and led to a review of the event by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). Its recently published interim results recommend what Animal Aid has condemned as ‘ineffectual tinkering’.

The new NOP poll shows that disapproval of the race is greatest among the youngest age category polled, the 16-24-year- olds. This is especially bad news for a racing industry whose core support comes from a rapidly ageing following.

It is with the backing of a significant proportion of the British public that Animal Aid declares that the time to consign this race to the history books is long overdue.

Andrew Tyler, director Animal Aid, Tonbridge