The Waterloo Cup was established at Altcar in 1836 and centres around hare-casing.
The 2004 event was attended by 7,000 spectators and 160 protesters.
The event organisers say only 1 in 8 hares die in the event, RSPC inspectors take the average to be closer to 1 in 4. This year 7 out of 27 of the Hares died (1 in 4).
With the possible passing of the Hunting Bill at the end of the year it could be illegal by 2005. Last July MPs voted by 317 to 145 in favour of the ban, but the unelected House of Lords banned it, keeping fox and stag hunting, as well as hare coursing, legal.
Here are some quotes from the defence:
Clarissa Dickson Wright, star of Two Fat Ladies - "I just wish all these people who jump up and down and say these silly things would come and watch the cup with an open mind and have coursing explained to them. Although some hares are killed, the point is not to kill them, and the ones that are killed are not ripped apart as these protesters would have you believe. I cook with some of them, in fact I have one marinading in the pot now."
"I have never heard one rational reason why this should not happen."
Charles Blanning, secretary of the National Coursing Club - "The Waterloo Cup is the greatest coursing event in the world - it is the greatest test of a greyhound in the world, and that's what we go to see."
Simon Hart, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance - "All of the organisations have so far failed to come up with any decent reason to make this a criminal offence. And many people think that there are more important issues that Parliament should be dealing with."
Here are the views of the protestors:
Gregg Metcalfe, spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports on Celebraty support - "We are extremely disappointed that anybody in the public eye would want to be associated with this barbaric event. To back such a high profile event sets a terrible example to his fans, that it is OK to chase and kill an innocent hare in such a cruel manner. It is very irresponsible."
Tony Moore, chairman of the Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe - "This arena bloodsport should have been thrown into the dustbin of history years ago."
"The Waterloo Cup is not a race to see who is the fastest or strongest, but a race to see who can kill the quickest.
"People do not cheer while watching - they just cheer with blood lust when an animal is killed."
"Bookmakers are a big part of the scene at the Waterloo Cup. It is obscene to gamble on the life or death struggle of an animal"
Veteran animal rights campaigner Tony Moore, whose late wife Vicky was gored by a bull during a demonstration at a Spanish fiesta - "This is the United Kingdom's best-kept secret. Nobody in the rest of Europe knows that this is going on. It is disgusting."
Dina Nixon, a 41-year-old mother- of- one - "I think it is shocking that people would bring their children to something like this, it is absolutely barbaric."
West Lancashire Labour MP Colin Pickthall - "Murder is not a sport" "Ban this bloody butchery".
Emma Milne, from BBC's Vets in Practice programme - "I think it is very bizarre. They could still do all of this and use a false hare. They say it is about pest control but you don't get this kind of a turnout for a cockroach exterminator. If a group of teenagers from an inner city council estate set their dogs on a cat then there would be uproar. This is completely unacceptable."
RSPCA spokeswoman Heather Holmes - "It is appalling that the RSPCA employs inspectors in the Merseyside area who day in, day out, work to prevent cruelty, and yet this barbaric practice dubbed a sport is allowed to go on on our doorstep and we can do nothing at all to prevent it. It is made worse by the fact this is promoted as a recreational activity. To witness the cheer from the crowd each time a hare is caught absolutely beggars belief."
Source: www.lancslacs.co.uk, http://icseftonandwestlancs.icnetwork.co.uk
Personally I'm an animal lover and find Blood Sports wrong for both moral reasons but also on the grounds of the animals' right to live.
What does everyone else think?
Edited by Talon S., 26 February 2004 - 02:31 AM.