Review of Horse Deaths at 2012 Grand National Complete

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has completed its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths equine competitors Synchronised, the prerace favorite, and According To Pete at the 2012 running of England's famed Grand National steeplechase. Both horses sustained serious injuries during the race, which was held April 14 at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England. The race spans four-and-a-half miles and includes 30 jumping efforts.

"The review into how the two sad fatalities came to occur was conducted using veterinary evidence together with detailed analysis of all available television footage," relayed Jamie Stier, director of raceday preparations and regulation for the BHA, in a written statement published May 1. "In the case of both Synchronised and According To Pete, it was apparent that factors one could neither have foreseen nor prevented were prevalent in the events that led to the two horses sustaining their injuries.

"At this stage, it remains too early to speculate as to whether any changes will be made to the Grand National; either to the start or to other aspects," he continued. "Naturally, we will be liaising closely with Aintree in collating and examining all relevant evidence from this year's meeting.

"While the focus of attention is inevitably on the Grand National, it should not be forgotten that throughout the three days Aintree staged top class and highly competitive jump racing under near perfect conditions," he concluded. "The course deserves considerable credit for implementing the changes recommended in the 2011 Review to such good effect and for the overall success of the meeting."

Following are the BHA's findings on the injuries incurred by Synchronised and According To Pete:

Evidence has been gathered from the racecourse veterinary surgeons who treated the horses in question and the BHA's own veterinary officers. In addition, there was detailed analysis of all available television footage, including material that was not broadcast, from the BBC and Racing UK, as well as (race) stewards' patrol video footage.

Synchronised: Firstly, following the incident (before) the start when (jockey) AP McCoy was unseated and Synchronised proceeded to canter loose for a short period of time (approximately two minutes), it was confirmed that the horse was subject to veterinary examination before being cleared to race.

The senior racecourse veterinary surgeon examined Synchronised before AP McCoy remounted the horse, including monitoring his heart rate. This was found to be barely elevated above normal resting rate. The type and rate of respiration was also examined and, again, was found to be hardly elevated. The BHA's veterinary officer was also present and he spoke with the Stewards who were monitoring the incident from their respective viewing positions and on television.

Synchronised was running in about 23rd position when he fell at Fence 6 (Becher's Brook). He appeared to have a clear sight of the fence and did not make a significant error but became unbalanced prior to landing and fell sideways on to his left side. AP McCoy was dislodged forward and clear of the horse. There did not appear to be any other factors which contributed to this fall.

After the fall, the horse got up and carried on running and jumping fences riderless. On review of the footage there is no evidence to suggest he was carrying any sort of injury at this point. This is corroborated by speed sensing data, which shows that the horse was travelling at the same speed both before and after the fall at Becher's.

The injury that led to Synchronised being put down occurred at Fence 11. He appears to decelerate into the fence and does not jump it cleanly, dragging his hind legs and hindquarters through the fence. It would appear he fractured his right hind tibia and fibula in the process.

Synchronised was promptly attended to by Veterinary Surgeons who identified the scale of the injury and concluded that the humane option was to put the horse down.

According To Pete: On the second circuit of the race According To Pete was in the front half of the field. As the runners bypassed Fence 21, a maneuver made on account of medical treatment being administered to an injured rider, the horse was in eighth place, alongside eventual winner Neptune Collonges.

After bypassing the fence on the outer, the field, which at this stage stood at 17 runners, together with three riderless horses, returned onto the racetrack proper and began to fan out back towards the middle of the course.

According To Pete was still travelling on the bridle approaching Fence 22 (Becher's Brook), now in seventh place, with clear space in front. He jumped the fence well but on landing, collided with the rear of another fallen horse, On His Own, resulting in According to Pete being brought down with the rider, Harry Haynes, being thrown clear.

As the horse got up, he was hit on his left side by another horse, It is not conclusive whether this collision or the greater impact incurred when he was brought down led to the fracture of the horse's left humerus.

Although According To Pete had a clear sight of the fence on approach, On His Own was possibly left a little unsighted due to the leaders drifting left from the outer. This caused On His Own to get in close to the fence and consequently he landed steeply with reduced forward momentum, knuckling on landing and rolling to his left, into the path of According To Pete.

Again, veterinary surgeons were quickly on the scene, the injury was diagnosed as untreatable and the decision made to put the horse down.

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