LEADING ANIMAL WELFARE CHARITY the League Against Cruel Sports has described the death toll at the Randox Grand National Festival as “bleak”.

It comes after the horse Dark Raven was destroyed after the third race on Friday 14 April, the second death this year.

Emma Judd, head of campaigns and communications at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “The tragic death of Dark Raven at the Randox Grand National Festival today – the second death in only three days – shows entertainment and gambling taking precedence over animal welfare and the lives of these horses. It’s time for change and for the introduction of tighter safety measures at Aintree and at racecourses across the UK”, she added

The death toll at the Aintree Festival has now reached 61 horses since the year 2000, with 15 deaths in the Grand National specifically. Some 86 horses have died throughout the history of the race. Four horses died at the 2022 Aintree Festival, with two horses being destroyed after the Grand National.

Emma Judd added: “One death is too many but this second death simply adds to the bleak death toll at this so-called festival in the last 23 years. We’re calling for a new independent regulatory body that bans the whip which pushes horses beyond what they can safely do, and has horse welfare as its number one priority.”

The Dark Raven fatality followed the death of the horse Envoye Special on the first day of the festival.

Other animal rights organisations are calling for the end of the Grand National. Animal Aid has, for many years, called for the race to be banned, describing it as “deliberately hazardous”.

* Sources: League Against Cruel Sports and Animal Aid