14/08/2014 16:48 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Grand National Horses 'Treated Better Than Some Children', Says Top Female Jockey

Grand National horses 'treated better than some children', says top female jockey Katie Walsh

Grand National race horses are looked after 'better than some children', according to a prominent female jockey.

Katie Walsh, who finished third last year and is among the favourites to win this weekend's Grand National, said those who think horseracing is brutal do not understand the sport.

"Anyone who gets up on Christmas Day and mucks out loves animals," she told Radio Times.

"Sure, it's a dangerous sport. But every night, all over the world, a lot of horses are left out in fields starving.

"These horses are so well looked after. Better than some children, to be honest with you."

The 28-year-old's comments have caused a backlash amongst child welfare campaigners.

Claude Knights, the director of Kidscape, a child welfare charity, said comparing the two was not appropriate.

"Obviously we have a duty of care to look after animals but it doesn't compare to the duty of care we have for our children," she said.

"Racehorses, while not exploited, are still tools that are being used for commercial use. They are being used, and asked to perform, and I would hope they are looked after well.

"When children are used in the same way, on shows like the X Factor, when their emotions are seen very publicly, the consequences are not very pleasant.

"I don't think making comparisons helps either cause."

Katie's comments come as news emerged that several changes have been made to the Aintree course this year after the deaths of two horses, which led to calls for the Grand National to be scrapped.

Changes include fences being made easier, the start being moved further away from the grandstand and a system put in place which can water the entire course to avoid ground conditions which enable the race to be run too fast.

There will also be an increase in numbers of horse-catchers and run-off areas where loose horses can be rounded up.