BHA to coordinate post-mortem to find cause of death
The BHA yesterday said a post-mortem would be carried out on Many Clouds to try to establish what caused the death of the former Grand National winner, who collapsed at Cheltenham on Saturday.
However, it said there was no evidence which linked post-race ataxia, a syndrome which the horse had exhibited previously including at Aintree, and racehorse fatalities.
There is a desire to make public the result of the post-mortem provided approval can be secured from owner Trevor Hemmings and trainer Oliver Sherwood.
Many Clouds collapsed in the collecting area past the finishing line moments after beating Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack in the Cotswold Chase. He was quickly attended to by vets and screens erected around him but died of a suspected heart attack.
At Aintree in 2015 and Kelso last year Many Clouds suffered post-race ataxia which causes horses to be unsteady on their feet due to a rise in body temperature after exercise.
BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said: "It is too early to say with any certainty what happened to Many Clouds. The BHA will help coordinate a post-mortem in the coming days to ascertain the cause of the incident.
"The horse was cared for by Cheltenham's team of vets within seconds of displaying any signs of distress. Sadly, it was not possible to save him. Incidents such as this are extremely rare.
"The symptoms exhibited by Many Clouds after his run in the Grand National are not uncommon in racehorses after exercise. It is linked to an increase in body temperature and can be treated by providing the horse with water.
"The BHA holds a list of all horses who exhibit these symptoms in order that they can be provided with water should they show the symptoms again. There is no existing veterinary evidence which links these symptoms with racehorse fatalities."
Mounsey said the sport was engaged in several pieces of research aimed at gaining a better understanding and finding ways to reduce the likelihood of sudden equine fatalities, including a Levy Board-funded project with a University of Nottingham looking at the development of cardiac assessment technology. An exercise to collect information on horses' post-race heart rhythms has also recently been completed.
"Sudden equine fatalities can occur at rest as well as during exercise, and among seemingly healthy horses," Mounsey said.
"They affect all equestrian sports including racing, eventing and show jumping. Many are caused by heart attacks or internal haemorrhage, but there are also a significant proportion where a definitive cause cannot be identified."