Fourth horse confirmed to have died at Grand National 2022 as calls for stricter safety measures

Discorama was one of four horses that died at Aintree. Credit: PA images

There have been calls for stricter safety measures in racing after four horses died following the Grand National festival.

Thousands spectated and millions tuned in across the globe as the most famous horse race in the world took place over the weekend.

The main event of the 2022 Aintree festival on Saturday evening saw 40 horses take to the start line to tackle 30 fences, with 50-1 shot Noble Yeats take home the title, ridden by amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen.

But, the event has been condemned by the RSPCA and the League Against Cruel Sports after it was revealed a number of horses had died following the three-day event.

Of the 40 horses who began the 174th Grand National only 15 finished - with two horses confirmed to have died.

Paul Nolan, an Irish racehorse trainer, announced on Saturday evening, 9 March, that Discorama had suffered a fatal injury between the 12th and 13th fences.

He said: "We are heartbroken to have lost Discorama today at Aintree. Bryan pulled him up due to injury. Our condolences to his owners Andrew Gemmell and Tom Friel."

Trainer Emma Lavelle revealed on Sunday morning, 10 March, that Eclair Surf had become the second horse to die as a result of “a traumatic head injury” at the third fence.

On Twitter, Emma said: "We are very sad to report that having sustained a traumatic head injury in yesterdays Grand National, Eclair Surf lost his fight this morning.

"He was looked after at the racecourse by a team of first class vets before being transferred to Liverpool university who treated him all night.

"However very sadly it was not to be. He was an incredibly special horse, loved by everyone and he will be missed terribly."

It is the first time two horses have died in the Grand National since 2012, after which safety changes were brought in.

Chris Luffingham, director of external affairs at the League Against Cruel Sports, has now called for stricter safety measures in horse racing.

"For two horses to die in the same race highlights the need for new safety measures to prioritise horse welfare," he said.

He called for a new independent, regulatory body focusing on the welfare of the horse.

The three-day event saw four deaths in total including Elle Est Belle, who died of a suspected heart attack on Saturday, and Solwara One who died of an injury on Friday, 8 March.

The RSPCA has condemned the deaths, saying that it is "heartbreaking" to hear that four horses died over the three days.

A spokesperson from the animal welfare charity 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."

It has urged the British Horseracing Authority explore if their deaths could have been avoided and to identify action to prevent future occurrences.

James Given, the British Horseracing Authority’s director of equine health and welfare. Credit: PA images

"We are all extremely saddened by the fatal injuries at the Grand National festival,” James Given, the British Horseracing Authority’s director of equine health and welfare said.

"Following a detailed review in 2011-12 the BHA and Aintree racecourse worked together to introduce a number of significant measures which have helped in the intervening years to reduce the injury rate at the Grand National meeting.

"However, 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."