Dan Skelton horse Elle Est Belle has sadly died after suffering a suspected heart attack on the final day of Aintree. During the second race of the day, the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, Elle Est Belle collapsed at the line while finishing fourth.
The signs did not look good for the horse, with the screens immediately going up around her. And she has now sadly been confirmed to have passed away.
A tweet from ITV Racing read: “We’re sad to bring you the news that Elle Est Belle has been put down following an injury close to the finishing line in our opening race Our condolences to all connections.”
The news sees a heartbreaking start to proceedings at Aintree ahead of the big race at 5.15pm.
Meanwhile there is further worrying news with Captain Conby walking into the horse ambulance to be given further tests by the vet after also taking a heavy fall in the same race.
Hopefully there will be no further casualties on what is generally regarded as one of the highlights of the sporting calendar.
All eyes will be focused on Rachael Blackmore later to see whether she can repeat her heroics and win the Grand National for a second year in a row on Minella Times.
Speaking ahead of the race she said: “What you do feel is excitement.The Grand National is just so massive, you never think you’re actually going to get to win it.
“Jockeys will wish each other good luck beforehand. It just has a different feel to it, especially riding Minella Times who gave me such a fantastic spin last year.
“He took to it really well. Jumping those fences with a horse that’s enjoying it is a great feeling. Tiger Roll won back to back so you never know.”