Welfare organisations relieved after no fatalities in Grand National for third year

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  • Welfare organisations told H&H they were “pleased and relieved” that for the third consecutive year there were no fatalities in the Grand National.

    A sell-out crowd of 72,000 gathered at Aintree on Saturday (11 April) to see eight-year-old Many Clouds provide jockey Leighton Aspell with his second consecutive Grand National win.

    The appearance of Many Clouds — who won this year’s Hennessy and was sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup — alongside 2014 Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere and Irish National winner Shutthefrontdoor, confirmed the quality of the field that lined up for this year’s race.

    “To have Many Clouds win the race is testament to what we’ve been trying to achieve,” said the Jockey Club’s John Baker. “He’s a high quality winner and one of the best performances we’ve seen in a long time to carry that weight [11st 9lb] to victory.”

    RSPCA equine consultant David Muir said the “clean” race was a “huge relief”.

    “I strongly believe that the changes to the course in 2012, which were made with the RSPCA’s input, have saved the lives of horses that may othe rwise have fallen and been seriously injured,” he said.

    World Horse Welfare’s Roly Owers added: “We believe that safety improvements in recent years, most especially the flexible fence cores, are making a significant difference.”

    Mr Muir added that “as always” both charities will be “examining the footage”.

    “If we see anything that causes us concern or that could be improved upon we will report our findings,” he said. “We will not be resting on our laurels. We will continue to look for ways to improve horse welfare throughout the entire meeting, as well as racing as a whole.”

    Roly added: “Given the increased risk of serious injury to horse and jockey through horse falls and loose horses during the race, we remain concerned by the proportion of fallers over the National fences compared to other steeplechases.

    “We believe this issue still merits further consideration, and will discuss with Aintree over the coming weeks.”

    Balthazar King fell heavily at the Canal Turn, but after treatment on course was taken to the University of Liverpool’s equine hospital Leahurst to be treated for broken ribs.

    Trainer Philip Hobbs reported that the 11-year-old gelding was “bright in himself” and “making steady progress”.

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