Toole in coma after Aintree fall
Horses and jockeys fall at Becher’s Brook during yesterday’s Grand National. There were two equine fatalities during the showpiece while jockey Peter Toole suffered serious head injuries in an earlier race. Photograph: John Giles/PA Wire.
Racing:Jockey Peter Toole is in a medically-induced coma after sustaining head injuries at Aintree on Saturday. The 22-year-old Irishman suffered bleeding on the right side of his brain when 100-1 shot Classic Fly fell at the first fence during the Maghull Novices’ Chase.
Toole was taken to Fazakerley Hospital, near Aintree, but was later transferred to the neighbouring Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery.
Trainer Charlie Mann, to whom Toole is attached, said: “He’s in an induced coma and he won’t be brought out until Monday at the earliest. He has bleeding on the right-hand side of his brain. He also dislocated a shoulder which has since been put back in place. He’s on a ventilator, and it’s not great — but we won’t know any more until Monday.”
Toole has ridden 30 winners this season and was due to have six rides at Wincanton on Sunday. Weighing-room colleague David Crosse added: “I’ve spoken to Peter’s dad who said he remains stable, but with no improvement. He’s going to be sedated for 24 hours.”
Animal welfare groups, meanwhile, have called for an outright ban on the Grand National following the deaths of two horses in yesterday’s race. The animals died during the first circuit of the gruelling four-and-a-half-mile course.
Ornais fell at the fourth and Dooneys Gate fell at the sixth, Becher’s Brook. Just 19 of the 40 starters finished the race.
The latest deaths have prompted campaigners to call for an end to the historic race.
Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler: “We’ve heard claims that the Aintree course is being made safer, safer, safer. No it’s not. The Grand National should be banned. It’s a deliberately hazardous, challenging and predictably lethal event.”
Julian Thick, managing director of Aintree Racecourse, said: “We are desperately sad at the accidents during the running of the Grand National and our thoughts go out to the connections of Ornais and Dooneys Gate.
“When a horse gets hurt, everyone is deeply upset. Safety is the first priority for the organisers of the Grand National meeting and we will redouble our efforts to make sure that everyone involved in the event — the horses, the jockeys, the spectators — is able to participate in safety and comfort.
“Horseracing is a very carefully regulated and monitored sport. All horses and riders in the Grand National have to meet very high standards set by an independent panel of experts. The Grand National is a well-organised and professional race.
“Only the best horses and the best jockeys are allowed to enter and all horses are inspected by the vet when they arrive at Aintree to ensure that they are fit to race.”