Martin Smith: A Grand occasion but is it worth such a tragedy

A dive: But let's remember Ashley Young was fouled as well.
A dive: But let's remember Ashley Young was fouled as well.
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IS IT worth it?

A fantastic finish, billions lost and won with bookies around the world, record crowds at Aintree and two horses dead.

The Grand National is one of the planet’s biggest sporting days of the year but it links us to a more brutal past when animal welfare was not the issue it rightly is today.

No-one will have been more upset than the owners and trainers of Synchronised and According to Pete who both sadly died.

On Saturday night racing-industry insiders were making a staunch defence along the lines of: “It’s a sport and these things happen sometimes, we just have to get on with it”.

They have a point.

People working with animals are far less sentimental about them than outsider animal-lovers, but that doesn’t mean they think less of them, far from it.

They work, train and live with their animals 24/7 if necessary.

They dedicate their lives to them. In turn the horses give them a living, in some cases an extremely good living.

Where there is endeavour there will be accidents.

The National and other races have to be made as safe as they can without entirely diminishing their elemental power.

We haven’t found that balance yet.

n If there are fooball gods they won’t be best pleased.

Not with Chelsea’s second ‘goal’ against Spurs, not with Ashley Young’s dive or all the other little cheats and bad judgements that went on in this weekend’s games.

The saying goes that they even out over a season.

You don’t get the penalty this time but you get it in four games’ time.

You get away with an odd offside then so do your opponents next time round.

Wishful thinking I fear.

There will inevitably be some evening-out of errors and unpunished cheating as the season comes to an end but Spurs can never go back to 1-0 in a semi-final.

Aston Villa can’t go back to 0-0 before Ashley Young threw himself into the air like Jello Biafra diving from a Dead Kennedys stage.

Young actually was the victim of a foul before he leapt. He WAS fouled but he DID dive.

What’s the ref to do? Award a penalty for the foul and then book him for diving anyway?

Things may not always work out evenly but I’m prepared to bet that young Mr Young will be pole-axed in the box before the season ends and the referee will shake his head and a genuine penalty will be denied - probably when his team need a break most of all ... how about in the game against City at the Etihad or at Sunderland on the last day?

Referees watch Match Of The Day too and although they shouldn’t react they probably do.

n Here it is.

Down-to-the wire, squeaky-bum, at-the-death, final-reckoning, business-end-of the-season, call-it-what-you-like time.

Fans are swinging wildly between calculating probable points totals and wishing their dads had taken them train spotting or bought ballet lessons instead of a season ticket all those years ago.

It’s too late now, those with the football gene are stuck with it.

We just have to keep doing the predictions and the alternative points totals, the anxiety attacks and cold-sweat fear.

Not long to go now, though it will feel like for ever before it’s over.