Emma Lavelle was heartbroken after Eclair Surf died on Sunday morning from injuries sustained when she fell during Saturday’s Randox Grand National.
The eight-year-old was among the main contenders for the Aintree showpiece, having won the Classic Chase at Warwick before chasing last week’s Scottish national hero Win My Wings in the Eider at Newcastle.
Eclair Surf looked likely to miss out on a spot in the Grand National field earlier in the week, but unexpected defections knocked him off the reserve list.
Cruelly, however, he took a heavy fall at the third fence and as he was stabilized on the course and walked on the transport to the racetrack stables he was then referred to Leahurst Equine Hospital and his condition deteriorating overnight led to him being euthanized on the welfare grounds.
“We were optimistic when he left the track, but during the night he became more and more shaky and as he got more and more anxious it was not the right thing to do to continue. , Lavelle said.
“He was in the right place for these decisions to be made and the team both at the races and in the hospital were great.
“You kind of sit there and think about the ifs and buts and why not, but you can’t sit and think that.
“He’s a real gutter for everyone – his owners and the team. He was an exciting horse for the future, but what can you say?”
Aintree Racecourse Veterinary Advisor Chris Proudman said: “We were sad to hear that Eclair Surf must have been put to sleep this morning.
“Following his crash yesterday he was stabilized on the course before resuming transport to the stables. After further veterinary assessment he was referred to Leahurst Equine Hospital last night.
“Everything was done for him and our hearts go out to those who loved and cared for him.”
Eclair Surf was one of two Nationals fatalities with the Paul Nolan-trained Discorama, who was stopped by Bryan Cooper after sustaining a pelvic injury.
Nolan said: “I’m devastated. But it’s racing and you have to come to terms with these things.
“He was a great servant and he gave us some great days, but all we can do is reflect on those happy few days and what he did for us.
“It’s just devastating for the owners and the yard, and it’s just one of those horrible things, but it’s part of racing and that’s what it is.
“Unfortunately I couldn’t attend. My dad is sick at home and we had to come back from Aintree so we are with him now.
“He’s no good. It puts everything into perspective. We didn’t tell him the horse was fatally injured, (just) he pulled his muscles and was home – he there are certain things you need to say to soften the blow.”
There were three deaths in total on Grand National day, with Elle Est Belle collapsing while lapping the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.
James Given, Director of Equine Health and Welfare at the British Horseracing Authority, said: “We are all extremely saddened by the fatal injuries at the Grand National Festival, although no one will be more upset than the trainers, owners and stable staff who have provided unparalleled care to these horses throughout their lives.
“Following a detailed review in 2011/12, the BHA and Aintree Racecourse have worked together to introduce a number of important measures which have helped in the years since to reduce the injury rate at the meeting of the Grand National. These included modifying the cores of the Grand National fences to a more forgiving rubber design; leveling the landing site of the fences to ensure horses take off and land at the same level; significant investment in the running surface and the introduction of state-of-the-art ‘misting’ fans to keep horses cool after the race, among other things.
“However, welfare and safety is an ever-evolving commitment and the BHA is constantly working alongside our racecourses to further improve the sport’s safety record and reduce avoidable risks. Every incident this week will be reviewed, and this information will then be based on the significant evidence and assessment that took place as part of the 2011/12 review, and in subsequent years. increased risk, we are then able to act accordingly.