Aintree remains under scrutiny despite Grand National success

Grand National success overshadowed by fatalities in other races

Aintree officials were celebrating after all 40 runners in 2013 Grand National returned home safely.

Recent years have been dogged by a succession of fatal fallers in the race, including 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised last year, prompting a series of changes to fences in the race.

This year, there were no fallers at the first seven fences for the first time in the event's history, and leading jockey Barry Geraghty attested to the improved safety of the race, in which 66/1 shot Auroras Encore scored a surprise victory.

However, animal welfare groups will still focus on the more negative aspects of the Aintree meeting, with two deaths in the days leading up to the showpiece race. First, 11-year-old Battlefront was pulled up during the Fox Hunters' Chase and died of a suspected heart attack. The next day, Little Josh had to be euthanised after breaking a shoulder in a fall at the Topham Chase.

The sport of horse racing will always be controversial, as it will never be able to totally eradicate horse fatalities. High profile incidents involving jockeys have also highlighted the risks associated with the sport. Amateur rider JT McNamara was paralysed after a fall at the Cheltenham Festival last month, while just 24 hours after his Grand National victory Ryan Mania was hospitalised after another accident.

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