Hill Sixteen trainer Sandy Thomson blames protesters for fatality in 'no favours' remark

  • Watch as Sandy Thomson speaks about Hill Sixteen.

Hill Sixteen trainer Sandy Thomson believes the protesters that delayed the start of the Grand National were to blame for the death of his horse.

Suffering fatal injuries, Hill Sixteen fell at the first fence following a delay in the race starting.

Protesters stormed the track with jockey's and horses suffering from the delay, with the race scheduled to get underway for the planned 17:15 start time.

The 10-year-old horse was trained by Sandy Thomson and ridden by Ryan Mania, both from Galashiels.

Speaking about his feelings from the incident Sandy Thomson said: "Very sad, obviously.

"He has been a big favourite in the yard. He came and done very well for us, even though he never quite won a race. Very sad with how things turned out."

The runners and riders at the start of the Grand National. Credit: PA

Following the death of Hill Sixteen, the League Against Cruel Sports called for greater safety measures to be introduced at Aintree and other racecourses across the country.

Emma Judd, head of campaigns and communications at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “The death of Hill Sixteen at the Randox Grand National reflects its shocking safety record – 16 horses have now died in the race since the year 2000.

“It cannot be more apparent that it is time for change and for the introduction of tighter safety measures in the Grand National, at the Aintree racecourse and at racecourses across the UK."

Dickon White, who runs Aintree Racecourse as North-West regional director for Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “Hill Sixteen was immediately attended by expert veterinary professionals during the Grand National, but sadly sustained a fatal injury. Our heartfelt condolences are with his connections.”

Trainer Sandy Thomson though believes that the protesters who stormed the track were to blame for the death of his horse.

Speaking about the incident, he said: "I think it affected the horses hugely, it affected everybody.

"When a horse goes to race it gets its saddle on about 20/25 minutes before, goes down to the paddock and the jockey gets on and they go out onto the course.

"On Saturday, that didn’t happen. We got them down to the paddock and once we got there they had to come back out. It was a very warm day so we gave them a wash and tried to get more water into them.

"Then suddenly we were told it was on again, we had to put the saddle on it was all a bit of a rush. We got into the paddock, went straight out and down to the start. I think everybody was very anxious down at the start.

"I have spoken to a couple of the jockeys and they just felt like everybody just wanted to get the race started. It affected everybody hugely.

"It is no coincidence that in the last nine years there have been an average of under two fallers at the first two fences and this year there were seven. I think it speaks for what these so-called animal lovers, because they did no favours to any of the animals on Saturday.

"They caused them a lot of problems. Whilst you can’t say it was their direct actions that caused the fatality of hill sixteen there are many people that think they have had a negative affect and a huge affect of what happened."

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