British Horseracing Authority CEO Paul Bittar Pushes Back Against Animal Rights Groups
British Horseracing Authority CEO Paul Bittar has spoken out against the more hostile pro-animal groups who said that this week’s Cheltenham Festival "will inflict cruelty on its 500 equine participants," according to Paul Hayward of the London TELEGRAPH. Bittar said, "Nowhere in the world does care for the horse and the depth of interest in the horse exist as it does in England." Most of the 220,000 racegoers who will attend four days of action in the Cotswolds are fans, but Cheltenham is "increasingly a forum for animal rights protesters." Bittar: "We’re keen to take a more positive approach to how we deal with the issues and not shy away or perhaps concede as much ground as people feel we may have conceded." Bittar, who has been in the job 12 months, insists that changes to race conditions, course modifications and initiatives such as the new warm-down area at Aintree "show a sport attuned to public sensitivities." Bittar: "I think we have to get the message across that this is a sport that’s not without risk" (TELEGRAPH, 3/10).