Animal Aid

Battlefront dies on the first day of the Grand National meeting

Posted 4 April 2013

The Grand National course, which has undergone what have been described as major safety improvements, claimed an equine victim today (4 April), when 11-year-old Battlefront collapsed and died with a suspected heart attack.

He was being ridden by Katie Walsh, who earlier this week triggered controversy when she seemed to trivialise the deaths of horses on racecourses (‘these things happen, and they’re horses at the end of the day’), and claimed that race horses are looked after ‘better than some children’.

Battlefront had been racing in the 3.40 Foxhunters’ Chase, which is run over 18 fences on the Grand National course. Walsh pulled him up when he appeared to become distressed after jumping the challenging Valentine's Brook. He had been carrying an exceptionally heavy weight of 12 stone. Twenty-three other horses were entered into the 2m 5f event. It has been reported that four of them fell, another was brought down, several were pulled up and just 14 of the 24 finished.

Battlefront is the 23rd horse to have died on the Grand National course since 2000 – eleven of them having perished in the big race itself. A report published by Animal Aid last month identified Aintree as the country’s most lethal racecourse for horses when deaths are calculated in relation to the number of days’ racing.

Says Andrew Tyler, Director of Animal Aid:

‘The Aintree authorities and the British Horseracing Authority have been claiming that major new safety measures and efficiencies would eliminate much of the risk associated with racing on the Grand National course. But today’s Foxhunters’ Chase, in which Battlefront lost his life, was stomach-wrenchingly chaotic from start to finish. Several horses fell or were pulled up, tired and potentially injured. It was both utterly depressing and served as confirmation that the Aintree authorities have got it badly wrong once again.’

For more information

Contact Andrew Tyler or Dene Stansall on 01732 364546.

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