Two horses die after chaos mars start of Grand National

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Animal rights campaigners call for steeplechase to be abolished as the death toll at UK racecourses reaches 41 this year

Synchronised, the joint favourite, was one of two mounts to die in the Grand National yesterday, prompting a fresh round of demands from animal rights protesters for the steeplechase to be abolished.

Ridden by veteran jockey Tony McCoy, the nine-year-old winner of last month's Cheltenham Gold Cup earlier escaped his rider, running most of the way around the course in a state of agitation before being brought under control for the start of the race proper. The thoroughbred steeplechaser fell at Becher's Brook after which he carried on riderless until he stopped after the Canal Turn where he was found to have an untreatable fracture on a hind leg and was put down. The other mount who died – According to Pete – fractured a foreleg also after falling at Becher's. Two other horses, Killyglen and Weird Al, were receiving veterinary treatment yesterday after falls.

The race was won by Neptune Collonges, ridden by Daryl Jacob in an almost impossibly close finish, millimetres ahead of Sunnyhill Boy. Katie Walsh on Seabass came third in the contest, becoming the highest placed female jockey in the history of the race.

The deaths bring the number of horses killed at the Grand National in the past 50 years to 36. Including yesterday's deaths, the toll of horses killed on racecourses this year has already reached 41, some 23 of these in March alone. Commentators said yesterday the toll would have been higher if a meeting hadn't been cancelled because of bad weather.

A cluster of about 30 animal rights protesters gathered outside the course yesterday, waving banners saying "Don't bet on cruelty". Andrew Tyler, director of Animal Aid, said: "The Grand National is a disgusting and shameful spectacle masquerading as sport. There is nothing sporting about an event that routinely kills so many horses. For anyone who genuinely cares about horses, watching this race was an utterly depressing and melancholy experience."

Julian Thick, managing director of Aintree, said: "We are desperately sad at these two accidents and our sympathies are with the connections of both horses. When a horse gets hurt, everyone is deeply upset. Safety is the first priority for the organisers of the Grand National and we make every effort to ensure everyone involved is able to participate in safety."

The angry protests at Aintree marked the formal start of what is expected to be a summer of political agitation targeting national and international sporting events in the UK. The anti-elitist campaigner Trenton Oldfield launched his own, slightly risible, protest against the Oxford and Cambridge boat race last week. But more serious and substantial demonstrations are expected this year, with protests against the Olympics being planned yesterday when a coalition of groups opposed to the Games met in London for the first time.

Protest groups under the umbrella name Greenwash Gold 2012 set out a series of actions leading up to and during the Games. The majority of the protests are aimed against controversial sponsors Rio Tinto, Dow Chemical and BP, who are accused of environmental and human rights abuses. The meeting at the Bishopsgate Institute in east London is the first time that separate lobby groups have come together to plan larger-scale disruption.

Clayton Thomas-Muller, a Canadian activist who helped mastermind protests at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, spoke at yesterday's meeting to advise the group on how best to disrupt the Games. "We're here to participate in a massive coalition of protest," he told The Independent on Sunday.

The group will launch officially tomorrow when a website will go online, offering the public the chance to vote for the Olympics' "worst" (least ethical) sponsor. The evening event will be chaired by former Olympics "ethics tsar" Meredith Alexander, who resigned from her role over controversies about the Games' sponsors.

A Home Office spokesman said: "People have a right to express their views, but this must always be balanced with the rights of millions of spectators who wish to enjoy the Games."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living