Death at Aintree on day two of Grand National meeting

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Aintree racecourse.
Aintree racecourse. © Roger May

A horse with a broken shoulder has been euthanised following a jumps fall on the second day of the Grand National meeting at Aintree.

Little Josh was put down as a result of his fall at the 15th fence in the John Smith’s Topham Chase, the fourth race of the day.

The death of Little Josh, the second at the meeting, was condemned by the group, Animal Aid, which suggested racing’s regulators faced a growing crisis of confidence over the Grand National meeting.

On Thursday, 11-year-old Battlefront was pulled up by Katie Walsh midway through the Fox Hunters’ Steeplechase. He collapsed and died shortly afterward from a suspected heart attack.

The veterinary adviser to Aintree Racecourse, Professor Chris Proudman, said of the demise of Little Josh: “We are sad to confirm that is has been necessary to humanely put down Little Josh on welfare grounds.

“He received immediate veterinary attention for a broken shoulder, but this injury was not treatable and it was the necessary course of action.”

Aintree and northwest regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, John Baker, said he extended his sympathies to the connection of Little Josh.

“We have made significant improvements in safety at the course, but we also recognise that jump racing carries risk you can never completely remove from the sport.”

The horse-racing consultant with Animal Aid, Dene Stansall, said: “Little Josh was a popular horse with race-goers and if they are not sickened by his death then it demonstrates there is very little heart in racing.

“The course operators and racing’s regulator now face a growing crisis of confidence as the public starts to fully acknowledge the brutal and lethal nature of the three-day Grand National meeting.”

Stansall said five other horses fell in the two-and-three quarter mile race and just 19 of the 29 runners finished.

As the race became competitive and many of the horses began to tire, there was a high rate of attrition, he said.

Little Josh had been entered into 24 races since 2006, the group said, 18 of them chase events.

He had been out of racing for a year before returning in January 2012. Though he won a race in December on the same Grand National course, during his last three outings he had fallen, been pulled up and finished eight out of ten runners.

The obstacle where he sustained his fatal injuries was a ditch fence – one of the biggest on the course. It was here that Synchronised broke his leg in last year’s Grand National and was destroyed, after he had fallen earlier at Becher’s Brook.

Little Josh’s death brings to 24 the number of horses who have died racing on the Grand National course since 2000, 11 of them in the big race itself.

 

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