Aintree and BHA to undertake review over festival deaths

Three horses died over the three days including a first Grand National fatality since 2012

The Willie Mullins-trained Up For Review died after a fall at the first fence of Saturday’s Grand National at Aintree. File photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The Willie Mullins-trained Up For Review died after a fall at the first fence of Saturday’s Grand National at Aintree. File photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Aintree and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will again undertake a review of the Grand National meeting, following three deaths over the three-day fixture.

The Willie Mullins-trained Up For Review became the first horse to sustain a fatal injury in the National since 2012 when he was brought down at the first fence in the extended four-and-a-quarter-mile race.

The track and BHA review the fixture annually, and the three fatalities will be scrutinised.

Dickon White, North West regional director for Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “As a sport of animal lovers, we wanted every horse to come home – and sadly that’s not been the case with Up For Review.

“All of us at Aintree extend our sympathies to [owners] Andrea and Graham Wylie and the team behind the horse.

“You have to go back to 2012 since we lost a horse in the Grand National, thanks in part to the huge amount of effort and investment we put into horse welfare.

“However, while you cannot remove all risk from our sport, we will analyse what happened and leave no stone in doing so.”

Up For Review’s death followed two incidents on Friday, with Crucial Role and Forest Des Aigles both humanely destroyed after sustaining injuries – the latter breaking down in the Topham Chase run over the National fences.

David Sykes, the BHA’s director of equine health and welfare, said: “As a result of ongoing focus and investment in welfare by Aintree racecourse and the BHA, the safety record at the Grand National festival has improved significantly.

“There had been no fatal injuries in the Grand National itself in the last six runnings of the race since 2012 – and prior to this weekend, there had been only one fatal injury at the entire Grand National meeting since 2016.

“In addition, the sport’s overall fatality rate has reduced by one third in the last 20 years, to 0.2 per cent of runners.

“Aintree racecourse and the BHA worked together in the run-up to this year’s meeting to ensure the preparations to keep the event safe were the best ever.

“We introduced additional measures based on the work done in the Cheltenham Review. All the horses taking part had passed medical checks before racing and the jockeys had received a personal briefing from the clerk of the course and the BHA’s chief regulatory officer.

“However, there is a level of risk involved in any activity in which horses take part. We work hard as a sport to keep those risks to a minimum and remove avoidable risk.

“We will take a measured, evidence-based approach to assessing the incidents, which will include reviewing video footage of all incidents and working with jockeys and trainers to ascertain exactly what caused the injuries.”

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