List of equine fatalities in the Grand National
Modern steeplechase races have an average of just over 4 equine fatalities for every 1,000 horses taking part, according to the British Horseracing Authority. However, the Grand National, a popular steeplechase held annually in England, yielded 7 fatalities out of 439 horses taking part between 2000 and 2010.
The Grand National is a National Hunt handicap race over a distance of 4 miles 3½ furlongs and over 30 fences at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool. The high number of equine deaths in the race has made it a target for animal rights activists. While course officials have repeatedly taken safety measures over the years, such as improving veterinary facilities and reducing the severity of fences, some have campaigned for further modifications or the abolition of the event that was inaugurated in 1839.
After the 1989 Grand National, in which two horses died in incidents at Becher's Brook (the sixth and 22nd fence on the course), Aintree began making significant changes to the fences that are jumped during the National. The brook on the landing-side of Becher's was filled in to prevent horses rolling back into it, and the incline on the landing-side has been mostly levelled out, whilst retaining a drop to slow the runners. Other fences have been reduced in height, toe-boards have been made taller, and the entry requirements for participating horses have been made stricter, such as the requirement for runners to have been placed fourth or better in a previous recognised steeplechase over a distance of at least three miles.
Some within the horseracing community, including some with notable achievements in the Grand National, such as Ginger McCain and Bob Champion, have argued that the lowering of fences and the narrowing of ditches, primarily designed to increase horse safety, has had the adverse effect by encouraging the runners to race faster. During the 1970s and 1980s the Grand National saw a total of 12 horses die (half of which were at Becher's Brook); in the next 20-year period from 1990 to 2010, when modifications to the course were most significant, there were 17 equine fatalities.
List of fatalities
The animal welfare charity League Against Cruel Sports counts the number of horse deaths at 40 over the three-day meet from the year 2000 to 2013. The following list details the equine fatalities during, or as a direct result of participating in, the Grand National, that is, the showpiece steeplechase itself rather than all the various races held over the entire three-day "Grand National meeting" (which includes two other races over one circuit of the National course: the Fox Hunters for amateur jockeys and the Topham for professional jockeys). It includes, where applicable and where known, the fence at which the fatality occurred.
|2012||Synchronised||While running riderless||Fell||Good||40||Fell at Becher's Brook but continued running riderless until the 11th fence where he fractured his right-hind tibia and fibula and had to be euthanised.|||
|2012||According to Pete||(6 &) 22||Brought down||Good||40||Fractured his left-fore humerus and had to be euthanised.|||
|2011||Ornais||4 (& 20)||Fell||Good||40||Incurred a cervical fracture upon falling and died.|||
|2011||Dooneys Gate||6 (& 22)||Fell||Good||40||Fractured his thoracolumbar upon falling and had to be euthanised.|||
|2009||Hear The Echo||While running||Collapsed||Good-soft||40||Collapsed on the run-in and died.|||
|2008||McKelvey||While running riderless||Collided with barrier||Good||40||Unseated rider at 20th fence and continued running riderless until he collided with railings, was unable to regain his feet due to injuries, and had to be euthanised.|||
|2007||Graphic Approach||While running riderless||Collapsed||Good||40||Fell at Becher's Brook but continued running riderless before collapsing with concussion; he was euthanised several days later.|||
|2006||Tyneandthyneagain||1 (& 17)||Fell||Good-soft||40||Continued running riderless until falling later, was diagnosed with a spinal injury and had to be euthanised.|||
|2003||Goguenard||(3 &) 19||Brought down||Good||40||Injured in a mêlée by another falling horse and had to be euthanised.|||
|2002||The Last Fling||(8 &) 24||Fell||Good||40||Broke his back upon falling and died.|||
|2002||Manx Magic||(4 &) 20||Fell||Good||40||Incurred a cervical fracture upon falling and died.|||
|1999||Eudipe||(6 &) 22||Fell||Good||32||Broke his back upon falling and had to be euthanised.|||
|1998||Pashto||1 (& 17)||Fell||Heavy||37||Collapsed after falling and had to be euthanised.|||
|1998||Do Rightly||4 (& 20)||Fell||Heavy||37||Suffered a heart attack whilst jumping the fence.|||
|1998||Griffins Bar||While running||Fell||Heavy||37||Incurred a shoulder fracture after jumping the fifth fence and fell; later had to be euthanised.|||
|1997||Straight Talk||14 (& 30)||Fell||Good||36||Incurred a leg fracture upon falling and had to be euthanised.|||
|1997||Smith's Band||(4 &) 20||Fell||Good||36||Incurred a cervical fracture upon falling and died.|||
|1996||Rust Never Sleeps||While running||Pulled up||Good||27||Pulled up lame before the 13th fence, diagnosed with a broken shoulder and euthanised.|||
|1991||Ballyhane||After finishing||Collapsed||Good-soft||40||Suffered a haemorrhage after completing the race and died.|||
|1990||Roll-A-Joint||8 (& 24)||Fell||Firm||38||Incurred a cervical fracture upon falling and died.|||
|1990||Hungary Hur||While running||Pulled up||Firm||38||Incurred a leg fracture while running towards the 19th fence, pulled up and euthanised.|||
|1989||Brown Trix||6 (& 22)||Fell||Heavy||40||Incurred a shoulder fracture upon falling.|||
|1989||Seeandem||6 (& 22)||Fell||Heavy||40||Broke his back upon falling and died.|||
|1987||Dark Ivy||6 (& 22)||Fell||Good||40||Incurred a cervical fracture upon falling and died.|||
|1984||Earthstopper||After finishing||Collapsed||Good||40||Collapsed and died after finishing the race.|||
|1983||Duncreggan||8 (& 24)||Fell||Soft||41||Injured in fall and later euthanised.|||
|1982||Again The Same||8 (& 24)||Pulled up||39||Upon his return home the horse was found to have broken a bone in his knee and had to be euthanised.|||
|1979||Kintai||15||Brought down||Good||34||Injured in fall and later euthanised.|||
|1979||Alverton||(6 &) 22||Fell||Good||34||Incurred a cervical fracture upon falling and died.|||
|1978||Rag Trade||While running||Pulled up||Firm||37||Pulled up lame before the 22nd fence and later euthanised.|||
|1977||Winter Rain||6 (& 22)||Fell||Good||42||Injured in fall and later euthanised.|||
|1977||Zeta's Son||(9 &) 25||Fell||Good||42||Injured in fall and later euthanised.|||
|1975||Land Lark||15||Fell||Good||31||Suffered a heart attack while jumping the fence.|||
|1975||Beau Bob||(6 &) 22||Fell||Good||31||Incurred a cervical fracture upon falling and died.|||
|1973||Grey Sombrero||15||Fell||Firm||38||Incurred a shoulder fracture upon falling and had to be euthanised.|||
|1970||Racoon||3 (& 19)||Fell||Good||28||Incurred a cervical fracture upon falling and had to be euthanised.|||
|1967||Vulcano||3 (& 19)||Fell||Good||44||Injured in fall and euthanised.|||
|1960||Belsize II||(4 &) 20||Fell||Good||26||Injured in fall and euthanised with a suspected cervical fracture.|||
|1959||Henry Purcell||6 & 22||Fell||Good||34||Broke his back upon falling and had to be euthanised.|||
|1954||Dominick's Bar||2 & 18||Fell||Soft||29||Suffered a heart attack while jumping the fence.|||
|1954||Paris New York||4 & 20||Fell||Soft||29||Incurred a cervical fracture upon falling and died.|||
|1954||Legal Joy||13 & 29||Fell||Soft||29||Broke a leg in a fall and had to be euthanised.|||
|1954||Coneyburrow||12 & 28||Fell||Soft||29||Injured in a fall and later euthanised.|||
|1953||Cardinal Error||4 (& 20)||Fell||Good||31||Injured or possibly killed in a fall.|||
|1953||Parasol II||8 (& 24)||Fell||Good||31||Injured in a fall and later euthanised.|||
|1952||Skouras||6 & 22||Fell||Good-firm||47||Incurred a cervical fracture upon falling and had to be euthanised.|||
|1950||Limestone Cottage||8 (& 24)||Fell||Good||49||Injured in fall.|||
|1946||Symbole||6 & 22||Fell||Good||34||Incurred a cervical fracture upon falling and died.|||
|1938||Cabin Fire||8 (& 24)||Fell||Good||36|||
|1938||Rock Lad||16||Injured on landing||Good||36|||
|1936||Avenger||1 & 17||Fell||Good||36||Incurred a cervical fracture and had to be euthanised.|||
|1931||Swift Roland||6 & 22||Fell||"Perfect"||43||Fatally injured when another faller landed on him.|||
|1931||Drin||9 & 25||Fell||"Perfect"||43||Incurred a leg fracture and had to be euthanised.|||
|1929||Stort||Fell||"Average"||66||Incurred a leg fracture and had to be euthanised.|||
|1922||The Inca||6 & 22||Fell||Good||32||Incurred a leg fracture and had to be euthanised.|||
|1922||Awbeg||8 & 24||Fell||Good||32||Incurred a leg fracture and had to be euthanised.|||
|1907||Kilts||1 & 17||Fell||Good||23|||
|1891||The Emperor||While running||Fell||Good||21||Having been pulled up, fell and broke his back while running back to the stables.|||
|1872||Primrose||2 & 18||Fell||Hard||25||Injured in fall and had to be euthanised.|||
|1871||Lord Raglan||Fell||"Perfect"||25||Broke a leg and was euthanised.|||
|1869||Huntsman's Daughter||"Average"||22||Reports state only that the horse had to be euthanised after the race.|||
|1868||Chimney Sweep||While running||Collided with barrier||Heavy||21||Injured when collided with barrier on the Melling Road and had to be euthanised.|||
|1863||Telegraph||5 & 21||Fell||Good||16||Injured in fall and had to be euthanised.|||
|1862||O'Connell||15||Fell||"Average"||13||Was taken to the stables where he later died. His rider, Joe Wynne, also died later that evening from injuries sustained in the fall; this is the only occasion a jockey has been killed in the Grand National.|||
|1861||The Conductor||Refused||"Average"||24||Injured in mêlée and had to be euthanised.|||
|1857||Garry Owen||Pulled up||Heavy||28||Ruptured his loins.|||
|1857||Albatross||Collapsed||Heavy||28||Fell dead while running towards the fence.|||
|1856||Banstead||2 & 18||Fell||"Average"||21||Injured in fall and had to be euthanised.|||
|1855||Miss Mowbray||8 & 24||Fell||Heavy||20||Incurred a cervical fracture upon falling and died.|
|1854||Bedford||9 & 25||Fell||Good||20||Injured in fall and had to be euthanised.|||
|1849||The Curate||2 & 18||Fell||Heavy||24||Injured in fall and had to be euthanised.|||
|1849||Equinox||3 & 19||Fell||Heavy||24||Injured in fall and had to be euthanised.|
|1849||Kilfane||4 & 20||Fell||Heavy||24||Injured in fall and had to be euthanised.|
|1845||Clansman||8 & 24||Fell||Heavy||16|
|1839||Dictator||9 & 25||Fell||Heavy||17||Burst blood vessel.|||
Summary by fence
The following table summarises the total number of equine fatalities by each of the 16 fences on the course, and includes the current height of each.
|Fence #||Current height||Total fatalities|
|1 & 17||4'06"||4|
|2 & 18||4'07"||4|
|3 & 19 (open ditch)||4'10"||4|
|4 & 20||4'10"||8|
|5 & 21||5'00"||1|
|6 & 22 (Becher's Brook)||5'00"||14|
|7 & 23 (Foinavon)||4'06"||0|
|8 & 24 (Canal Turn)||5'00"||7|
|9 & 25 (Valentine's)||5'00"||4|
|10 & 26||5'00"||0|
|11 & 27 (open ditch)||5'00"||0|
|12 & 28||5'00"||1|
|13 & 29||4'07"||1|
|14 & 30||4'06"||1|
|15 (The Chair)||5'02"||3|
|16 (Water Jump)||2'06"||0|
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