Sandsend became the third victim at the Cheltenham Festival this year after collapsing towards the end of the two-mile Randox Health County Hurdle this afternoon.

Katie Walsh was unshipped from Sandsend before the last and it was later confirmed the Mullins-trained runner had suffered a fatal injury.

Racing at full speed and close to the end, five-year-old grey gelding Sandsend lost his footing on Cheltenham Racecourse’s heavy ground.

His left foreleg shattered and he hobbled in distress before he was put down.

We have chosen to air the footage – which was shown live on ITV to millions of viewers and has prompted an angry response from Animal Aid.

Spokesman Isobel Hutchinson reacted within minutes of the incident and said: “This devastating incident highlights the barbaric cruelty of this profit-driven ‘sport’.

“The brutal leg-break suffered by Sandsend was truly horrifying to witness.

“We can only imagine the agony and terror that he must have suffered, through no fault of his own.

“How many more horses will have to die, before action is taken to stem the tide of deaths?

“We believe that the current regulator simply isn’t fit for purpose, and urgently needs to be replaced with an organisation that has horse welfare as its priority.”

Sandsend is the third equine victim of the week to lose his life at the Gloucestershire racecourse.

Users rushed to pay their condolences on Twitter with one writing: “Being a sports fanatic seeing a horse put down is terrible but that break was horrible. Keep galloping up there #sandsend.”

Another said: “Very sad news about Sandsend however, condolences to those involved ❤ #CheltenhamFestival

Including seven crying emojis in their post, a fellow viewer said: “Very sad to see what happened to #Sandsend in the County. Heartbreak for all the connections.”

While another vented their fury and wrote: “sandsend, that was actual sickening don’t know why people keep betting on this s***e.”

PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – have joined Animal Aid in slamming the sport.

A statement read: “Horses used in races are subjected to painful whipping in order to force them to run faster and jump higher than they naturally would.

“The stress on their bodies can lead to debilitating medical conditions, including bleeding lungs and gastric ulcers. Many are first raced when they are too young and haven’t fully developed, increasing the risk of injury and illness.

When horses get too old or stop performing well enough to be profitable, they’re often “retired” and sent to slaughter. Animal Aid estimates that around 1,000 horses from the racing industry are killed in abattoirs in Britain every year and turned into dog food or cheap meat. Others face horrific live-export journeys to Europe.”


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