McKelvey is 174th horse to die in a race in just one year

Millions of racing fans who followed the recovery of Grand National favourite McKelvey on television after his near fatal injury in the race last year were left devastated after the horse died in yesterday's gruelling race.

A spokeswoman for Aintree racecourse said: "Regrettably, McKelvey sustained an injury after unseating his rider at the 20th fence and was humanely put to sleep."

The animal rights groups Animal Aid had warned before the race that McKelvey was at particular risk in the steeplechase. Spokesman Andrew Tyler said McKelvey, who damaged a tendon while coming second in last year's race, could not have possibly recovered from such an injury sufficiently, and would not be fit enough after a year without racing.

Aintree officials said, however, that all horses entered for the race had to pass a veterinary test, and a spokeswoman for Peter Bowen, the horse's trainer, said the McKelvey had been fit.

"This is a race even a fit and healthy horse struggles to finish, never mind a horse that suffered such an injury just a year ago," Mr Tyler said. "It's the most gruelling, lethal race in the world. I hope the BBC shows the public that an event it sponsors, and millions of people bet on, leads to the deaths of horses. As an animal lover, it is a very distressing race to watch. I think it should be stopped. The obstacles are intentionally difficult."

McKelvey's death brings the number of horses to die in this year's meet to three. On Friday, Time to Sell and In the High Grass died after falls in the Topham Chase. According to Animal Aid, 174 horses have now died in horse races in the UK since March last year.

Since 1991, 51 horses have died at the Aintree meeting, although only one jockey has been killed. Improvements to the course were made in 1989 after two horses died after failing to clear Becher's Brook.

The RSPCA said the race had been made safer following negotiations with the racing authorities. Improvements included reducing the numbers of horses, adapting fences, as well as enforcing stricter entry requirements and moving the crowd further back to reduce distractions.

McKelvey's recovery was followed by the sports presenter Clare Balding for the BBC's The One Show. Viewers were also able to log on to a "stable cam" set up by the BBC at the horse's stables in Pembrokeshire.

Earlier this year the horse's trainer, Peter Bowen, said: "McKelvey has come back from his tendon injury and he looks as good as he has ever been, so we are hopeful of another good run at Aintree in April again this year."

Speaking to Clare Balding, the trainer added: "Ever since I was a five year old I've wanted to train the winner of the National."

A spokeswoman for Aintree said yesterday: "Yesterday's race was won by Comply Or Die, a victory which left bookmakers facing one of the biggest payouts in the race's 160-year history.

To have your say on this or any other issue visit www.independent.co.uk/IoSblogs

Suggested Topics
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss