Saturday 19 October 2019

First death of Cheltenham Festival as Willie Mullins' Ballyward is fatally injured in fall

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

Ballyward was fatally injured during the concluding National Hunt Challenge Cup on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

A field of 18 runners went to post for the four-mile contest restricted to amateur riders, but just four finished.

Ballyward was the 9-4 favourite to provide trainer Willie Mullins with a third winner of the afternoon.

However, he fell at the 17th of 25 fences in the hands of the trainer's son, Patrick, and had to be euthanized.

Ballyward was one of nine fallers in the race, while another five were pulled up.

A statement from Cheltenham read: "Sadly Ballyward sustained an injury in the National Hunt Chase.

"He was immediately attended to by our vet team, who very sadly determined that it was necessary to euthanize him on welfare grounds.

"As animal lovers, we hate to lose any horse and of course we shall review this incident. Our thoughts are with the Ballyward's connections."

Although it was first thought Mullins and all other riders had returned unscathed, it emerged Finian Maguire was taken to Southmead Hospital in Bristol for further checks.

Maguire, who is the son of former Gold Cup-winning rider Adrian Maguire, parted company with the Jessica Harrington-trained Whisperinthebreeze at the 14th fence.

PA Media

The Left Wing: Welcome to Irish rugby's biggest week - is an upset on the cards?

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport