The Grand National 2022 was full of surprises with the Amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen finishing his career with a famous win with the 50-1 chance Noble Yeats.
It was announced on Thursday, the first day of the world famous tournament, that Waley-Cohen would be enjoying his final ride on the Emmet-Mullins trained horse which is owned by his father.
The 39-year-old rider jumped alongside the 15-2 favourite for the race, Any Second Now, but pulled clear on the run-in and won by two and a quarter lengths.
Minella Times was the race’s favourite heading into the prestigious Steeple Chase and was ridden by Rachael Blackmore - the event’s first ever female winner.
However, Minella Times fell at the Valentine’s Brook fence (the ninth on the track) and therefore ended Blackmore’s chances of continuing her historical legacy.
Snow Leopardess was hoping to become the first mother to win the race but was pulled up before the second circuit.
This year’s festival also saw four fatalities overall, with two coming as a result of the steeplechase.
Animal Charities have since called for stricter measures surrounding races in order to prevent the continued fatalities and end ‘cruelty’ in horse racing.
Which horses died at the Grand National?
Solwara One was the first horse to be put down after sustaining an injury at the 1.45pm BST race on Ladies Day, Friday 8 April 2022.
Elle Est Belle was the second to reach the end after suffering a suspected heart attack in a race on Saturday.
It was unfortunately Eclair Surf and Discorama who suffered the fatal injuries in Saturday’s Grand National race.
A total of 59 horses have now died at the Aintree festival since 2000, according to reports from the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS).
Since a review in 2011/12, the British Horseracing Authority has taken steps to improve the safety surrounding the Grand National.
These have included making fences more forgiving, levelling out the landing sites after each jump and investing in the race surfaces. Measures have also been introduced to keep horses cool after each race.
After the fatalities at the Grand National, the BHA director of equine health and welfare said: “Welfare and safety is an ever-evolving commitment and the BHA works constantly alongside our racecourses to further improve the sport’s safety record and reduce avoidable risk.
“Every incident this week will be reviewed and this information will then build on the significant evidence and evaluation that took place as part of the 2011/12 review, and in subsequent years.”
What have the charities said?
The LACS said: “This death toll is simply unacceptable and a blight on the horse racing industry. We need new safety measures to prioritise horse welfare and to bring about an end to this sickening spectacle.
“We need a new independent, regulatory body which focuses purely on the welfare of the horse and ends the use of the whip and the cruelty and body count associated with the Grand National.”
The RSPCA has said: “The death of any horse is always one too many so it is crucial that steps are taken to reduce the risk of such tragedies occurring.”
What have the trainers said?
Eclair Surf was a last minute addition to the race but unfortunately suffered a heavy fall. After being stabilised on the course, he walked onto transport but his deteriorating condition overnight led to him being euthanized on welfare grounds.
His trainer, Emma Lavelle said: “You kind of sit there and think of the ifs and bus and why nots, but you can’t sit and think that.
“It’s a real gutter for everybody - his owners and the team. He was an exciting horse for the future, but what can you say”
Discorama’s trainer, Paul Nolan said: “I’m devastated. But that is racing and you have to accept those things.
“He was a great servant and he gave us some great days, but all we can do is reflect on the couple of happy days and what he has done for us.”