Champion jockey has seen an incredible 20 mounts die during the last five years

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One of the country’s leading jockeys has had 20 of his horses die during or after races in the past five years, it emerged yesterday.

Fatalities: AP McCoy riding Synchronised at the 2012 Grand National, shortly before their fatal fall

Two other top jockeys have suffered the deaths of 17 and 16 horses respectively over the same period.

The figures, produced by an animal rights group, fuel claims that horse racing is cruel, and should be restricted.

Animal Aid say that the jockeys’ death rates are broadly reflective of those across the entire sport, with the top riders having more deaths just because they have more races.
The figure of 20 was for champion jockey Tony McCoy, whose mount Synchronised died in last month’s Grand National. In the same race, According To Pete also died, leading to a wave of concern about welfare.

At the time, McCoy, one of Britain’s most successful jockeys and BBC Sports Personality of the Year two years ago, said: ‘It is one of those terrible things you wish would never happen.’ He described Synchronised, on which he had won the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March, as ‘a horse I won’t ever forget’.

Last year alone, McCoy’s mount Kerensa died in a race at Towcester in December, A Stones Throw died after a race at Market Rasen in July, Zarinski also died at Market Rasen in January, and Lethal Glaze died after the races at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. With the figures suggesting McCoy has ridden in 3,987 races over the past five years, he has lost a horse every 199 races.

Fellow jockeys with high death counts since 2007 include Richard Johnson, with 17 lost horses, and Tom Scudamore, with 16. Animal Aid says Scudamore has lost one horse every 167 races. The group’s director Andrew Tyler said 180 horses died in British race meetings in the past year.

He added: ‘Most people would be shocked that so many horses die after being raced by these top jockeys. However, these jockeys are actually no worse than the average

‘They have accumulated the highest death tallies because they ride a lot of races. The real point is that this kind of attrition rate is typical of all jump racing. The sport is inherently lethal to horses.’

The British Horseracing Authority and the Professional Jockeys’ Association accepted the figures, but defended racing.

Robin Mounsey, of the BHA, said: ‘British racing is among the world’s most regulated of animal activities and we are very open about injuries and fatalities.’ A BHA spokesman said there were 95,000 races run by individual horses in Britain last year. He added: ‘In 2011, the overall equine fatality rate was 0.19 per cent of these 95,000 runners.’

Jockeys’ Association spokesman Paul Struthers said: ‘Leading jockeys will ride far more horses per year than others, so, simply by the law of averages, they are more likely to see some of their mounts suffer fatal injuries.’

  • AP McCoy tops ominous chart, losing one horse for every 199 he has ridden since 2007
  • List compiled by animals rights group to show dangers of racing

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Terrified Grand National horse who died at Aintree should NEVER have even started, say the racing experts

Comments Off on Terrified Grand National horse who died at Aintree should NEVER have even started, say the racing experts

  • Nine-year-old Grand National favourite fell twice during race and had to be put down
  • Pundits had raised concerns over horse’s well-being after it threw jockey Tony McCoy minutes before start
  • Synchronised fell at notorious Becher’s Brook, before second fall five fences later where it broke a hind leg
  • RSPCA demand changes to race after describing Grand National as ‘clearly not safe enough’

A champion horse killed after falling at the Grand National should never have been allowed to race after it became spooked before the start, experts said yesterday.

Millions saw Gold Cup winner Synchronised throw its rider before poignantly galloping alone in front of the grandstand ahead of the race on Saturday.

It was eventually retrieved by officials and reunited with its jockey Tony McCoy at the start. However, it was to die in the race a few minutes later after it fell twice

Tragic: Synchronised (circled in red) starts to fall after jumping the notoriously difficult Becher's Brook during Saturday's Grand National

Racing pundit John McCririck was among those who said the horse, one of the favourites, should not have started the race when there were doubts over its physical and mental well-being.

And before the race began BBC presenter Clare Balding commented that Synchronised ‘did not look up for it’ as the horse appeared jittery when McCoy ‘showed it’ the first fence before racing.

Synchronised won the Cheltenham Gold Cup a month ago but lasted just six of the 30 fences before falling at notorious Becher’s Brook.

 The nine-year-old carried on racing ‘riderless’ for a further five fences before falling again and breaking a hind leg. The agonising decision was then made to put the horse down by lethal injection beside the track where it fell.However, the trainer of another horse which met the same grim fate, According to Pete, has spoken in defence of the race, saying his death was ‘just a freak accident’.According to Pete fell when jumping Becher’s Brook for the second time and colliding with another horse. It was put down after breaking its shoulder.

But Malcom Jefferson said it was time to stop tinkering with the conditions of the race and said he would have no qualms about entering another horse next year.

He said: ‘He (According to Pete) was one of my favourites so it’s hit me very hard. As a trainer, and it’s the same for anyone in racing, you don’t go to the races expecting to lose your horse.

‘You can’t do anything about it, it’s just a freak accident that could have happened anywhere, but because it was the National everyone saw it.’

The two deaths have led to to angry calls for the Aintree event – first run in 1839 – to be made safer.

But Mr Jefferson said: ‘They can’t carry on making changes. In my eyes, the fences should be bigger to slow them down. If they were a foot higher Pete would still have jumped them.

‘People say make the field smaller, but what if next year another two die? Then they`ll want 20 runners. If I have a suitable horse next year I’ll enter him.’

The RSPCA called for an ‘urgent examination’ and said it had serious concerns about the high number of horses included in the race, as well as the difficulty of some jumps.

The race was delayed when McCoy fell from Synchronised before the start.

The horse ran some distance down the course on its own before it was caught and a vet was then seen checking the animal’s heartbeat before it was ridden back to the start.

According to some experts, the gelding may not have been in the right condition to run the gruelling race.

As the horse and rider were filmed facing the first fence, Miss Balding commented on air: ‘I don’t think he fancies it much, you know.’ She added afterwards: ‘I know that’s a silly thing to say.’ Yesterday Miss Balding, an experienced horsewoman, wrote on Twitter: ‘It is wrong to wake up the morning after an event still upset about it.’

She also wrote messages saying there are too many horses in the Grand National, meaning they do not have enough room to jump and land safely.

According to Pete ridden by Harry Haynes, left, falls after jumping Becher's Brook. The horse later had to be put down

 McCririck commented: ‘Racing must review whether horses should be allowed to take part if they get loose and run free.‘For years, along with others, I’ve campaigned for horses to be withdrawn if they unnaturally exert themselves at such a crucial moment. The industry must act to cut down this kind of avoidable risk.’The chief executive of the RSPCA, Gavin Grant, demanded significant changes to the race, where last year two horses were also killed.

‘It’s clearly not safe enough,’ he said yesterday, calling for an end to ‘death and suffering’ at Aintree.

He continued: ‘We recognise racing is part and parcel of the fabric of our country but we’ve all got a responsibility as human beings – after all the horses haven’t got a choice, they can’t make the decisions – to make racing as safe as it can be.

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