British RSPCA to review Grand National footage

April 14, 2011

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The British RSPCA says it will review footage of the Grand National to determine the circumstances behind the deaths of two horses in Saturday's race.

The RSPCA, in a brief statement, said it would closely examine race footage to see if the deaths of Ornais and Dooneys Gate could have been avoided.

A spokesman said: "The death of a horse at any race meeting is never justifiable and it is crucial that, wherever possible, steps are taken to reduce the likelihood of such tragedies occurring."

The Grand National, he said, was the most testing of races.

There was a higher risk to horses due to the number of runners, the distance of the race and the number and variety of obstacles.

The RSPCA would continue to have a close dialogue with Aintree management and would address any concerns, he said.

Before the race, the RSPCA had urged jockeys not to overuse the whip or force tired horses to complete the race as it increased the risk of injury and fatalities.

Four horses died during last year's three-day race meeting, compared to five in 2009. This was despite the course manager's efforts to produce the best going possible.

The RSPCA has worked with Aintree officials to introduce various changes to the course in recent years, including adjustments to the fence cores, padded jump protection and additional run-outs for riderless horses.