Animal welfare campaigners have condemned the deaths of three horses during the Grand National festival in Aintree. Solwara One, who competed in the 1.45pm race on Friday, was the first fatality before Elle Est Belle suffered a suspected heart attack while finishing fourth in the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle on Saturday before the main event.
Discorama featured in the Grand National – won by Noble Yeats at a cost of 50/1 – but was stopped before the 13th close due to injury. After the race, the 40 horses that started returned to the stables and underwent assessments by Aintree’s veterinary team, but mirror reports they found “an incurable pelvic injury” for the horse trained by Paul Nolan.
Nolan confirmed the news on Twitter, revealing he was “heartbroken” at the two-time winner’s death. He wrote: “We are heartbroken to have lost Discorama today at Aintree. Bryan [Cooper] pulled him up due to injury. Our condolences to its owners Andrew Gemmell and Tom Friel.”
Aintree Racecourse Veterinary Advisor Professor Chris Proudman said: “After the race Discorama, who had stopped traveling on the flat between the fences, was further assessed at the treatment facility. Aintree vet at the stables. Very unfortunately we have determined that he has suffered an incurable pelvic injury and it has now been necessary to put him to sleep for welfare reasons. Our thoughts are with his relationships.
Since 2000, 16 horses have died at the meeting, according to the Manchester Evening News. The Long Mile had to be taken down after sustaining a fatal injury in the 2021 Grand National, with Up For Review also losing their lives at Aintree Racecourse two years earlier. Changes to the route were introduced in 2012 and there were no fatalities between 2013 and 2018, but this number has now risen to five in the last three editions of the festival (2020 has been canceled due to Covid-19) .
Changes introduced included adapting and rebuilding fencing, facilities and stables, while new fencing approaches and bypass areas were added to improve horse safety.
However, following the death of Solwara One – coached by Neil Mulholland – an RSPCA spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened and concerned following the death of Solwara One at the Grand National Meeting at Aintree. The death of a horse is always one too. It is therefore crucial that measures are taken to reduce the risk of such tragedies occurring. »
Animal Aid horse racing campaigner Jade Emery has called for the event to be banned altogether. She said: “If a horse’s life is worth nothing to the racing industry, as we have seen every year at the Grand National meeting, then the industry itself is devoid of morals. It’s time to challenge the acceptance of this race meeting and dead associates, and see that it is forbidden to take place.”
League Against Cruel Sports Deputy CEO Chris Luffingham, “Enough is enough. Animal welfare should be at the heart of horse racing and much stricter safety measures need to be implemented – the first step is to create a new independent regulatory body that focuses solely on the welfare of horses.
“The use of whipping in sport should be banned as it forces horses to go beyond what they are able to bear and results in stress, injury and death. Horses’ lives are sacrificed for the “entertainment” and gaming.”
Noble Yeats won the 174th edition of the race under Sam Waley-Cohen in his last race as a jockey. The 39-year-old, whose father Robert owned the Grand National-winning horse, announced earlier in the week that he was retiring from the sport after the showpiece event and ended his career in style.
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