Animal welfare groups react after horse dies on first day at Cheltenham

Malinello, pictured racing in December 2020, died on the first day at Cheltenham (Getty Images)
Malinello, pictured racing in December 2020, died on the first day at Cheltenham (Getty Images)

A horse died on the first day of Cheltenham Festival after a horror fall during the National Hunt Challenge Cup race.

Malinello, an eight-year-old ridden by Gina Andrews and trained by Ben Pauling, hit the 16th fence and fell awkwardly. Cheltenham’s veterinary team attended as he lay on the racecourse, but Cheltenham later confirmed his death.

A spokesperson said: “Sadly Malinello sustained an injury in the final race of the day. He was attended to by the on-course veterinary team and assessed immediately, but very sadly passed away. Our thoughts are with all his connections.”

Animal welfare groups raised their concerns over the latest incident.

Recent runnings at Cheltenham have been marred by the tragic passing of horses after falls in competition. According to long-standing animal rights group Animal Aid, at least one horse has died every year that the Festival has been held since 2000. The organisation’s data shows that a total of 73 horses have died after running at the event in the last 23 years.

On Tuesday, Animal Aid called for an end to the kind of fence jumping seen in the Hunt Chase, writing: “RIP - 8 year old Malinello was killed at Cheltenham today in the notorious amateur riders race, the National Hunt Chase. It’s time to Ban Jump Racing.”

The RSPCA tweeted: “We’re very distressed to hear of the death of Malinello at the Cheltenham Festival today. We believe that racehorses should have a good life on and off the track, and should never be exposed to unacceptable risk of injury or death. We will be discussing this incident with the BHA.”

Malinello, owned by Martin and Lynn Jones, had raced nine times in his career and picked up two wins, earning almost £20,000.