Another National tragedy: Despite public outcry after last year's carnage at Aintree, two more horses die at notorious jump - including the Gold Cup w


By a whisker: In this handout image provided by Racetech, the official photofinish shows grey horse Neptune Collonges edging a nose past Sunnyhillboy

The Grand National faced fresh controversy yesterday after two horses died during the race despite the introduction of new safety measures.
Millions of television viewers saw Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised, one of the favourites, fall at Becher’s Brook fence. The horse was later put down.
The second victim of the infamous fence, which has claimed more lives than any other in the iconic race, was According To Pete, which was put down after breaking its neck. Two other horses, Killyglen and Weird Al, were last night being examined by vets after being injured during the race. Their conditions were not thought to be life threatening.
The incident-packed 165th Grand National was one of the most dramatic in history.
Neptune Collonges won the race in the closest ever finish. Sunnyhillboy finished second and Seabass, ridden by Katie Walsh – hoping to become the first female jockey to win the National – finished third.

On the run-in: The two horses, Neptune Collonges the grey and Sunnyhillboy to the left, were neck and neck only a few yards from the line

But it was the fatalities that last night sparked a furious debate, with the RSPCA calling for an ‘urgent examination’ of the race.
The deaths came despite the introduction of new safety measures. Almost £250,000 was spent by Aintree officials to implement the recommendations of a safety review following a public outcry over the deaths last year of Dooney’s Gate, also at Becher’s Brook, and Ornais.

Tight: This shot shows just how close the finish was - with Neptune Collonges's nose just poking ahead

They included changes to three fences that have claimed half of the fallers since 1990 and a raft of other measures including stricter pre-race screenings. Becher’s Brook, made of spruce trees, is notorious because of the size and angle of the 6ft 9in drop on the landing side, which is lower than the take-off.
Since 2000, 35 horses have died during the three-day Aintree meeting.
The death of Synchronised came after its jockey Tony McCoy had earlier been unseated by the horse in the moments leading to the start of the race, raising questions over whether the favourite was fit to race.

Jubilant: Neptune Collonges and Daryl Jacob celebrate their National success

The horse went on to fall at Becher’s on the first circuit before carrying on and falling again at the 11th fence, where it broke its leg. According To Pete fell at Becher’s after colliding with another horse on the second circuit.
There was further drama as jockey Noel Fehily was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg after being unseated from State Of Play at the fifth fence.
One fence had to be bypassed on the second circuit for the jockey to be treated by medics. In all, just 15 of the 40 horses that started the race finished.
Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA, said: ‘The death of two horses at the Grand National, bringing the total to three at the Aintree meeting, is totally unacceptable.

Fatal fall: AP McCoy and Synchronised fall after the sixth fence. The horse had to be put down on the course

‘This is the second year running that two horses have died. In it’s current format, the risks to horses are not appropriate and we want an urgent examination of the Grand National, including a number of fences including Becher’s Brook where horses are continuing to die despite safety improvements.’
Mr Grant also questioned whether the whip was overused in the final stages of the race, adding: ‘If that is the case it is totally unacceptable and, given the narrow margin of the win, I believe the result should be reversed.’

Elated: Trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Daryl Jacob celebrate therr victory in the John Smith's Grand National Chase

Carnage: Horses jump Beechers Brook at the start of the race. There were two confirmed fatalities

Tumble: Jockey James Reveley, centre, falls from Always Right at The Chair fence during the Grand National

Thrills and spills: James Reveley rolls away from the crash. A number of other fallers in the race will renew calls for smaller fences

Neptune Collonges runs clears as According to Pete and jockey Henry Haynes and On His Own and Paul Townshend fall at Bechers

Mummy's boy: Coleen looked in her element playing with two-year-old Kai. Wayne was getting ready for his football

source: dailymail