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Grand National horror: Nearly 30 horses dead in race-related tragedies since 2010 | Racing | Sport


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Yesterday Discorama, Solwara One and Elle Est Belle died on the Aintree course, home to the world’s most famous steeplechase, which was won by amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen on board 66-1 outsider Noble Yeats. The tragedies have brought the rising death toll from the meeting into renewed focus, with the RSPCA calling for “urgent steps” to be taken to stop a repeat next yr. 

It follows a study by animal rights group PETA which found 29 horses which have taken part within the festival within the last 12 years had died prior to yesterday.  

In a chunk written for the Norfolk-based charity by Chelsea Monroe, it noted these horses “died during or due to” the national hunt festival, branding it a “national disgrace”.

Ms Monroe wrote: “Horses used for racing often die of fatal injuries akin to broken backs or are killed after sustaining broken legs.

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“At Becher’s Brook, aptly nicknamed the ‘killer fence’, horses have slammed face-first into the bottom and collided with one another, breaking necks, backs, and legs.

“Horses who survive end the race exhausted and sometimes injured.”

Becher’s Brook is a fence that’s jumped twice in the course of the race, and following the deaths of Dark Ivy and Seeandem, in 1987 and 1989 respectively, organisers at Aintree ensured the fence was modified to make it safer for the animals.

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Because of this of the deaths of Ornais and Dooneys Gate, each who died in the course of the 2011 edition of the race on the fence, further changes were made.

A PETA spokesman added: “Each time horses are forced to hop over these excessively high obstacles, it puts tremendous pressure on their slender front legs they usually risk broken legs, necks, and backs.

“In some cases, drugs – each legal and illegal – have been administered by trainers and even veterinarians to mask the pain of horses who must have been recuperating in order that they might as an alternative be forced to run with injuries, making them worse.

“Even those that make it off the track alive are prone to suffer. Every yr, 1000’s of horses – including spent Thoroughbreds and those that don’t “make the grade” – are discarded like used betting slips.”

Discorama’s trainer Paul Nolan said last night: “We’re heartbroken to have lost Discorama. Our condolences to his owners Andrew Gemmell & Tom Friel.”

Last yr, Rachael Blackmore became the event’s first female jockey to win, on Minella Times.

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Within the previous 171 editions of the race, only a person had won.

Reflecting on her historic 2021 victory Blackmore said: “It’s just incredible, the Grand National is so massive and I can not consider it, it’s phenomenal, I’m speechless.

“I never imagined even getting a ride on this race, letting alone be standing here taking a look at this trophy.

“This race captures the imagination of each young person with a pony.

“I do not feel male or female straight away. I do not even feel human.”

Waley-Cohen said after yesterday’s victory: “I cant say anything. It’s a dream. I can not consider it.”

Express.co.uk has contacted The Jockey Club and Aintree Racecourse for comment.

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