Elle Est Belle died after competing in the second race on Grand National Day 2022 at Aintree. The mare, trained by Dan Skelton, was pulled up by jockey Harry Skelton in the closing stages
Elle Est Belle has died after suffering a suspected heart attack during the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.
The Dan Skelton-trained mare collapsed during the Grade 1 race on Grand National Day, which was won by the 5-2 favorite Three Stripe Life. Elle Est Belle was held up towards the rear in the early stages and she had made headway towards the leaders when the tragedy occurred.
The four-time winner, including two races at Listed level, was in fourth place when she was pulled up quickly by jockey Harry Skelton in the 2m 4f event.
A spokesperson for Aintree Racecourse said: “Very sadly Elle Est Belle sustained a fatal injury close to the finish line in the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle. All our thoughts are with Elle Est Belle’s connections.”
Elle Est Belle competed in eight races and her first career start was at Aintree in October 2020. The six-year-old won a bumper by five-and-a-half lengths and she had since taken her form to a new level over hurdles .
In 2021 she was placed at both the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National meetings. She won a total of £61,271 for her connections on the racecourse.
Racing fans took to social media to pay tribute to Elle Est Belle following the incident.
One said: “Thoughts with Elle Est Belle connections such shame had great future ride high.”
Another tweeted: “Really sad to hear about the beautiful Elle Est Belle.”
While a third person added: “Horrible news from the previous race about Elle Est Belle, always sad to see! Thoughts are with connections.”
The tragic news comes a day after Solwara One died, having competed in the 1:45pm race. Professor Chris Proudman, Veterinary Advisor to Aintree Racecourse, said: “Solwara One was pulled up while simply galloping on the flat in the Alder Hey & Aintree Handicap Hurdle, run on Aintree’s Mildmay Course.
“He was attended to by our veterinary team but after thorough examination it was determined that very sadly he had sustained an unrecoverable injury. The 14 races across two days so far have seen 192 other horses compete without serious incident.”
In the build-up to the Grand National, Dr David Stack, a Senior Lecturer in Equine Surgery at the University of Liverpool, told BBC Radio Merseyside about the focus placed on horse welfare in the sport.
He said the nearby equine hospital, which assists in that department, has similar facilities to ones the NHS uses for human patients.
“We will have a number of teams on standby at all times with specialisms in a variety of different areas that should cover any eventuality,” he added.