Severe pulmonary haemorrhage caused death of National hero
The wobbles Many Clouds experienced after his Grand National and Hennessy Gold Cup triumphs did not play a part in his death, the BHA confirmed on Monday when releasing details of the popular chaser's post-mortem, which revealed he suffered a massive internal bleed in Saturday's Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.
The BHA had on Sunday stressed there was no evidence that linked post-race ataxia, a condition Many Clouds had exhibited previously, to equine fatalities, and results from tests carried out by Veterinary Investigation Services Ltd with a member of Three Counties Equine Hospital in attendance verified that.
It had initially been suspected a heart attack had caused the death of Many Clouds – who won the 2015 National and produced arguably the performance of his life when edging out Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack in thrilling fashion on Saturday – but the BHA said the ten-year-old suffered a "severe pulmonary haemorrhage" and "no significant underlying health issues were discovered in the autopsy".
The organisation's acting chief veterinary officer Tony Welsh added: "Episodes such as this are rare and can occur in horses who have no underlying health issues, and among all disciplines of sport horses.
"Post-race ataxia and similar symptoms are linked to an increase in body temperature after exercise and can be treated by providing the horse with water. It is not uncommon in racehorses or other sport horses.
"Despite some reports following the incident, there is no existing veterinary evidence that links these symptoms with racehorse fatalities, and the post-mortem results have categorically proved that the symptoms exhibited by Many Clouds in the past were in no way present or associated with his sad death at Cheltenham.
"Our thoughts remain with everyone connected to the horse. Any loss of life is regrettable, and we continue to use research, safety measures, regulation and education to reduce fatality rates to as close to zero as possible."
The BHA, which thanked owner Trevor Hemmings and trainer Oliver Sherwood for allowing the post-mortem results to be released, said the fatality rate within jump racing for horses suffering from similar episodes is just 0.048 per cent of runners and that the overall fatality rate within British racing has decreased by a third in the last 20 years owing to the sport's investment in equine health and welfare.
The Lambourn-based Sherwood, who described Many Clouds as the horse of a lifetime on Saturday, said: "He didn't suffer. It was completely unrelated to his wobbles and his heart was fine. It was one of those things.
"If it had been his heart, that would have been unrelated to the wobbles he had as well – that was a heat thing and nothing to do with his heart. He's had a heart monitor on and had been checked out because of those wobbles.
"We've had some fantastic messages and we know exactly what happened, which can happen to any horse at any time.
"He's going to be cremated and I'm certain Mr Hemmings is going to have his ashes scattered somewhere in the Isle of Man."