Second horse confirmed to have died at Grand National 2023 amid calls for stricter safety measures

Envoye Special died during the fifth race. Credit: Grand National

Two horses have died at the Grand National Festival in Aintree.

Envoye Special, who was being ridden by James King, was assessed by vets on the track, but sustained a fatal injury.

The horse died after falling in the Foxhunters' Chase just after 4pm on Thursday 13 April.

A second horse, Dark Raven, died on the final day of the Grand National on Saturday 15 April.

It has led to calls for tighter safety measures with animal cruelty charities condemning the races.

Animal welfare charity, League Against Cruel Sports said: "Horse racing urgently needs tighter safety measures after the tragic death  Envoye Special on the first day of the Randox Grand National Festival."

The death toll at the Aintree Festival has now reached 60 horses. Credit: PA Images

Head of campaigns and communications at the organisation, Emma Judd, added: "The tragic death of Envoye Special at the Randox Grand National Festival today shows how the lives of horses are being sacrificed simply for entertainment and gambling.

"It’s time for change and for a new independent regulatory body with horse welfare as its number one priority to be introduced, as well as a ban on whip use during all races."

Envoye Special is the 60th horse to have died at the Aintree Festival in the past 23 years.

Four horses died at Aintree Festival in 2022, including two in the Grand National.

Aintree Racecourse said after the fall Envoye Special was attended to by the on-course veterinary team.

A spokesperson said: "Envoye Special was immediately attended to by our expert veterinary professionals during the Foxhunters’ Steeple Chase.

"After assessment, sadly they concluded the necessary course of action for the horse's welfare was to put him to sleep. Our sincere sympathies are with his connections."

Ms Judd continued: “One death is a death too many, but we’ve now seen scores of horses dying at the Aintree Festival since the turn of the century.

“The only answer can be tighter safety measures at racecourses in the UK, and proper scrutiny of horse welfare.”

Another group of activists, Animal Rising, has promised to disrupt the festival on the day of the headline Grand National race - despite an undercover report exposing their plan.

Members of the group had planned to form a human barricade across the course at Aintree after sneaking into the event with ladders and bolt cutters.

Merseyside Police has said it has “a robust policing plan in place” for the meeting.

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