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Horse death overshadows Sprinter Sacre win

Friday - 4/5/2013, 1:26pm  ET

Liam Treadwell , bottom left, falls from Regal D'estruval at the fence before Beechers Brook during the Steeple Chase, on Ladies' Day at Aintree Racecourse Liverpool, England, Friday, April 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

AINTREE, England (AP) -- The Aintree Festival experienced more grief Friday following the death of another horse over the fences in the Grand National Steeplechase, overshadowing the latest victory by Sprinter Sacre.

Little Josh was destroyed after breaking a shoulder following a fall in the Topham Steeplechase, the fourth race of the day. He was the second horse to die at this year's festival, after Battlefront on Thursday.

"This injury was not treatable and it was the necessary course of action," said Prof. Chris Proudman, veterinary adviser at Aintree.

It's a major blow to organizers who made modifications to the course after four deaths in the past two Grand Nationals and complaints from animal-rights groups.

"We have made significant improvements in safety at the course, but we also recognize that jump racing carries risk you can never completely remove from the sport," said John Baker, who runs the Aintree course in Liverpool.

Jockey Liam Treadwell was hospitalized after falling from Regal d'Estruval in the same race.

On Thursday, Katie Walsh pulled up Battlefront midway through the Fox Hunters' Steeplechase. The 11-year-old horse collapsed and died shortly afterward from a suspected heart attack.

Aintree's restyled fences have been softened by removing wooden stakes and replacing them with a more forgiving plastic material. Critics believe still more needs to be done, with 21 horses having died in races over Grand National fences since 2001.

"Sadly there is a statistical probability that horses will die at the Grand National meeting," said Dr. Mark Kennedy, head of science at World Society for the Protection of Animals.

He said the risk horses are exposed to in a steeplechase at the three-day Aintree meeting is six deaths in 1,000 starts.

Nigel Twiston-Davies, the trainer of Little Josh, said the horse had "gone out doing what he loved most."

"It could happen anywhere, it could happen at home and it's not the fences -- it could have happened at a park course," Twiston Davies said.

About 30 minutes before Little Josh fell, Sprinter Sacre sauntered to victory over a top-class field in the Melling Chase, taking his unbeaten run over fences to nine races.

Running his first race over the longer distance of 2
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