An otherwise exciting opening day of the Cheltenham festival was marred by three fatalities.
Unsurprisingly, Willie Mullins enjoyed what commentators are wont to describe as a 'bumper day', securing three wins with Douvan, Annie Power and Vroom Vroom Mag.
However, his day was blighted by the loss of Pont Alexandre fell at the National Hunt Chase. Mullins
It is a sad loss for the owner on what has been a great day. We never got to see the true extent of what he could do.
He was a lovely big, old-fashioned chaser and the type that had a laid-back personality. I thought I had him back this season and he will be sorely missed at the yard.
The Govaness looked set to have a serious tilt at the Mares Hurdle and was in a battle coming to the last. However, the Dr. Richard Newland trained mare suffered a fatal fall at the final fence.
Jonjo O'Neill's Rezorbi fell at the second last in the Novice's Handicap Chase and was put down humanely after the race.
The British Horse Racing Authority's chief vet Jenny Hall made a statement in light of the fatalities. She moved to reassure critics that fatal injuries are on the decrease.
We are sad to hear of the fatal injuries received today by The Govaness, Pont Alexandre and Rezorbi. Our thoughts are with the owners, trainers and all the staff who have cared for these horses.
The BHA works closely with Cheltenham, and indeed all British racecourses, to ensure that the highest possible standards of welfare are in place at all fixtures. Each of the horses injured today were attended to promptly and received a high standard of professional veterinary care from the team at Cheltenham Racecourse.
We record and monitor all injuries and fatalities that occur on the racecourse to provide a benchmark from which the industry continually strives to reduce injury rates. Over the last 20 years the equine fatality rate has fallen by a third, and in 2015 was the lowest on record, falling to just 0.18% of runners.
Animal rights groups were especially critical of the television coverage, with one describing it as 'sickening' that the station had failed to mention even one of the deaths.
However, Channel 4 insisted they were unaware at the time and it wasn't their practice to speculate on these issues.
We weren't given confirmation until we were off air and it is not our protocol to speculate.
The other two incidents happened off air and we again extend our condolences to connections.
Our highlights programme has taken into account the incidents of the day with care and consideration.