Second horse dies, A second horse in two days died at the Aintree Grand National meeting on Friday despite officials making changes to fences after criticism of deaths last year.
Little Josh was put down after a fall while Battlefront collapsed and died on Thursday. The English Grand National, widely regarded as the world's best known steeplechase, takes place on Saturday.
"We are sad to confirm that it has been necessary to humanely put down Little Josh on welfare grounds, as a result of his fall at the 15th fence in the Topham Chase," an Aintree statement said.
"He received immediate veterinary attention for a broken shoulder, but this injury was not treatable and it was the necessary course of action."
The deaths of two horses during last year's race and two in 2011 brought equine safety into focus and prompted an official inquiry amid calls by animal welfare groups for the National to be banned.
A number of modifications were subsequently recommended, with the organisers making famous fences such as the notorious Becher's Brook less dangerous.
However, two deaths before the day of the main race this year will do little to ease the pressure on racing chiefs at the Liverpool course.
Battlefront, ridden by Katie Walsh who hopes to become the first woman to win the National on Saturday, died on Thursday after being pulled up at the 11th fence in the first race of the meeting over the new fences.
This week Walsh had defended the National against accusations of cruelty, saying horses were treated "better than some children".
Aintree chief John Baker also told Reuters this week that safety and welfare should always be a priority in jumps racing but the National must remain a test of horse and jockey and not lose its unique character.
The race was first run in 1839 and now has an estimated global television audience of 600 million.
(Writing by Mark Meadows; Editing by Ken Ferris and Pritha Sarkar)
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