RAISING money for charity is a wonderful thing to do (Priest prays for success in Grand National) however, there are kinder ways of doing it than betting on the Grand National.

Father Liam Slattery admits betting can damage people lives, but seems unaware that horse racing is extremely dangerous for the horses.

This year there were five deaths over the three-day meeting. It got off to a predictably grim start on Thursday, with two deaths. Exotic Dancer finished second in his race but, soon after, suffered a fatal heart attack. Mel In Blue was riding in the Foxhunters' Chase, when he broke his neck after falling at the supposedly much safer Becher's Brook, Two more horses were killed the following day (Friday). Moscow Catch died after a heavy fall that appeared to break his neck, and Lilla Sophia was destroyed after breaking a leg.

Just 17 of the 40 thoroughbreds entered into Saturday's four-and-a- half mile Grand National finished the race. Hear The Echo collapsed in the run-in and, despite oxygen being administered, he died.

Altogether, 178 horses were killed at Britain's 60 racecourses in the past year. A bet on horse racing is far from being a 'harmless flutter'. I hope Father Slattery will turn down any invitation to bet on horse racing in the future.