Tragedy hits Grand National meet as Walsh's mount dies
Katie Walsh, below, has her heart set on making history by becoming the first woman to win tomorrow's Grand National, but she experienced distress yesterday when her mount, Battlefront, collapsed and died shortly after being pulled up in the John Smith's Fox Hunters' Chase.
The tragedy represents an excruciating start to the meeting for Aintree officials, who have responded to fatalities in each of the last two Nationals with a series of modifications to the controversial course. John Baker, director of Aintree racecourse, sought to put the incident in context. "British racing is open that you can never remove all risk from horse racing, as with any sport," he said.
"However, welfare standards are very high and equine fatalities are rare, with a fatality rate of just 0.2 per cent from 90,000 runners each year."
Last year the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Synchronised, had been unharmed in a fall during the Grand National but freakishly suffered a fatal injury while galloping loose. According To Pete was also a casualty, put down after fracturing a leg during a fall.
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i racing correspondent Chris McGrath assesses the astounding talent of Sprinter Sacre – who is the clear favourite for today's featured Melling Chase – and his opposition at Aintree. MORE