- Horse racing
Horse put down at Aintree after fall
Veterinary staff were forced to put down Little Josh on Friday, after the 11-year-old broke a shoulder during the Topham Chase at Aintree.
The gelding, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by his son Sam, suffered the fracture during a nasty fall in the Grade Three race - leaving medics little choice but to put him down.
The horse had led the race briefly around Becher's Brook prior to the accident.
Professor Chris Proudman, veterinary advisor to Aintree, said: "We are sad to confirm that is has been necessary to humanely put down Little Josh on welfare grounds, as a result of his fall at the 15th fence in the John Smith's Topham Chase.
"He received immediate veterinary attention for a broken shoulder, but this injury was not treatable and it was the necessary course of action."
Twiston-Davies had originally hoped Little Josh would make the field for Saturday's Grand National, but entered him in the Topham instead after failing to meet the British Horseracing Authority's strict qualification conditions.
The race was eventually won by 14/1 shot Triolo D'Alene. The 28 other horses involved in the race all returned safely.
John Baker, Aintree and North West regional director for Jockey Club Racecourses, added: "I would like to extend our sympathies to the connections of Little Josh following his fall in the John Smith's Topham Chase.
"We have made significant improvements in safety at the course, but we also recognise that jump racing carries risk you can never completely remove from the sport."
Safety is a key issue at Aintree this week, after two horses died during last year's Grand National - leading some to suggest that the difficulty of the race and some of its fences were putting the animals in unnecessary danger.
Some of the Grand National fences, over which the Topham Chase was also raced, were redesigned in the last 12 months - with the material used to make them changed from wood to plastic. It was a move welcomed by World Horse Welfare.
On Thursday, the opening day of the festival, another 11-year-old, Battlefront, died during the Foxhunter's Chase from a suspected heart attack. Medics subsequently confirmed that the death had been unrelated to either the racing or the racecourse and would have been impossible to prevent.