A horse has died on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival.
Consul De Thaix, trained by Nicky Henderson, suffered fatal injuries after falling at the sixth-last fence in the Novices’ Hurdle in Wednesday’s first race.
It comes after the death toll at last year’s event hit a ten-year high when seven horses died.
Many have offered their condolences for those connected with the five-year-old thoroughbred.
Animal rights campaigners have also tweeted the news, attributing blame to the popular horse racing event.
Jockey Mark Walsh avoided serious injury despite being thrown off his mount, but he will not ride again this week, the Associated Press reports.
The four-day festival is controversial, with animal rights campaigners calling for it to be scrapped in the wake of horse deaths.
Dene Stansall, Animal Aid’s horse racing consultant, said in a statement to The Huffington Post UK: “Consul De Thaix’s death was a harrowing sight.
“There is clearly a loophole in the law and regulatory system that allows this suffering to go unpenalised.
“The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Cheltenham Racecourse should be held responsible for this poor horse’s horrific death.
“They should be subject to an independent inquiry and made accountable under the law for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.”
Campaigners have revealed that 53 horses died at the Cheltenham Festival between 2000 and 2016.
The “staggering” death toll across all racecourses in Britain in the last decade was revealed this week as surpassing 1,500.
Animal Aid says horse racing is an “exploitative activity” but the BHA, the governing body of the sport, says it works with the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare and is “committed to reducing the risk in racing for both horse and jockey”.
The RSPCA says it was “concerned and sad” about the seven horse deaths at the Cheltenham Festival last year.
The organisation said one of its consultants visits the Festival and other horse racing evening throughout the year “to help improve welfare wherever possible”.
The BHA adds that British racing “is among the world’s best regulated animal activities” and stresses the fatality rate has fallen by a third in 20 years.