Two horses die at Grand National as animal charities call for end to racing

Giovinco, ridden by Stephen Mulqueen, (pictured in 2023) died after falling at the final fence. Credit: PA Images

Two horses have died during Ladies Day at the Grand National Festival.

Both horses fell at jumps and were treated on the track, at Aintree Race Course in Liverpool.

Giovinco who was being ridden by Stephen Mulqueen, fell at the final fence of the Mildmay Novices' Chase just before 2pm, and required treatment on the track.

He was treated by vets for an extended time, but could not be saved from the injuries sustained in the fall.

Giovinco was trained by two-time Grand National winner Lucinda Russell, and was seven years old.

A second horse, Pikar, was killed when he broke his neck after a fall, campaign group Animal Aid said.

Pikar, ridden by Stephen Mulqueen and trained at Dan Skelton's yard, fell at the second last hurdle in the last race of the day.

An Aintree Racecourse spokesperson said: "During our first race of the day, Giovinco fell at the last fence and was immediately attended to by our expert veterinary professionals.

"After assessment, sadly they concluded the necessary course of action for the horse's welfare was to put him to sleep.

"Pikar sadly passed away following a fall at the second last hurdle in the last race of the day, having also been attended to on course by our veterinary team.

"Our heartfelt condolences are with the connections of both horses.”

The death of the horses on day two of this year's Grand National festival has led to more calls for tighter safety measures, with some even saying horse racing should be banned.

Animal Aid said: "If the death toll was this high in any other 'sport', it would be banned immediately.

"However, because it's 'just' horses being killed, then the racing industry and the government seem content to allow these innocent animals to suffer horrific injuries and die."

The Grand National has seen a number of changes for the 2024 races in a bid to improve safety.

Fences have been changed, with foam and rubber toe boards added, as well as reducing the height of Fence 11 by two inches.

Standing starts to all races have also been implemented.

The moves come in a "continued focus to ensure the best possible welfare conditions" for those racing in the annual three-day festival, the Jockey Club said.

Announcing the measures in October 2023, the body, which runs the Grand National Festival, said it had "recognised the need for more substantial updates on several key areas in order to better protect the welfare of racehorses and jockeys".

In 2023 three horses died during the Aintree Festival, while in 2022 the total was four horses, including two in the Grand National.

A total of 65 horses have now died at Aintree since 2000, Animal Aid said.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...