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The Sport Matrix: Friday 5 April 2013


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.

Torres double sees Chelsea prevail

Fernando Torres scored in each half as Chelsea defeated Rubin Kazan 3-1. Torres struck from close range early on before Victor Moses doubled Chelsea's lead. Bebras Natcho's 41st-minute penalty gave Rubin hope but Torres' second arrived in the 70th minute. MORE

Newcastle suffer defeat in Benfica

Newcastle suffered a 3-1 away defeat to Benfica last night. Papiss Cissé put Newcastle ahead in the 12th minute before Rodrigo Moreno levelled for Benfica, who then sprung into life. Rodrigo Lima scored in the 65th minute and Oscar Cardozo struck six minutes later. MORE

Gloucester given a French lesson

Gloucester's hopes of winning this season's Amlin Challenge Cup were squashed by Biarritz who scored three first-half tries on their way to a 41-31 quarter-final win at Kingsholm last night. The French team ended up running in five tries on a sorry night in the west country. page 47

Barton in trouble over Silva tweet

Joey Barton has been summoned by the French Football Federation's ethics committee after the Marseilles midfielder called Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva an "overweight ladyboy" on the social networking site Twitter. MORE

Ambitious Touré signs new City deal

Yaya Touré has signed a new four-year deal at Manchester City, keeping the Ivory Coast midfielder at the English champions until 2017. "I want to continue winning titles and trophies and continue to make history," said Touré. MORE

Ferguson tries to forget 6-1 defeat

Sir Alex Ferguson refused to discuss Manchester United's 6-1 defeat to Manchester City last season as he prepares for the same fixture on Monday, declaring only that he is determined not to let City "derail" United's title charge. MORE

WRU head Lewis' plans spark anger

Regional Rugby Wales has accused the Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis of "overseeing the decline of Welsh rugby outside the international tier". RRW are angry at WRU's plans, which include possible central contracts. MORE

England defend Prior omission

Geoff Miller, England's chairman of selectors, said Matt Prior "showed his worth in New Zealand" but defended the decision not to include him in the 30-man provisional squad for the Champions Trophy. MORE

Sacre's moment

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