Wiltshire’s racing fraternity has been left saddened by the death of an “incredibly special” local horse in the Grand National – a loss which has prompted an animal charity to call for the race to be banned.

Éclair Surf, trained by Emma Lavelle at her Bonita Racing Stables, near Marlborough, and ridden by Tom Bellamy, was injured at the third fence at Aintree on Saturday.

Emma Lavelle said on Twitter on Sunday that Eclair Surf had sustained a head injury and that after being treated at the racecourse he had been transferred to Liverpool University’s equine hospital. 

She added: "We are very sad to report that having sustained a traumatic head injury in yesterday’s Grand National, Eclair Surf lost his fight this morning. 

"He was looked after at the racecourse by a team of first class vets before being transferred to Liverpool university who treated him all night. However, very sadly. it was not to be.

"He was an incredibly special horse, loved by everyone and he will be [missed]."

The news that Eclair Surf had been put down followed the announcement by Paul Nolan on Saturday evening that Discorama had suffered a fatal injury between the 12th and 13th fences. He was the third horse in the last three runnings of the National to die as a result of an injury while galloping rather than in a fall.

“We are all extremely saddened by the fatal injuries at the Grand National festival,” James Given, the British Horseracing Authority’s director of equine health and welfare, said on Sunday, “though no one will be more upset than the trainers, owners and stable staff who will have given these horses unparalleled care throughout their lives.

“Following a detailed review the BHA and Aintree racecourse worked together to introduce a number of significant measures which have helped in the intervening years to reduce the injury rate at the Grand National meeting.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Eclair Surf in 2020. Photo: PAEclair Surf in 2020. Photo: PA

“However, welfare and safety is an ever‑evolving commitment and the BHA works constantly alongside our racecourses to further improve the sport’s safety record and reduce avoidable risk.”

But the animals charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA] is now calling for the National to end.

PETA director Elisa Allen told the Daily Mail: "Eclair Surf's death was predictable and avoidable, and it's proof - not that any more was needed - that the Grand National must be put out to pasture.

"If human high jumpers or runners died like this in competitions, organisers and trainers would be charged with murder, yet people still place bets on horse races and turn a blind eye to the hideous abuse these sensitive animals are subjected to.

"Anyone considering betting on horse races should think of Eclair Surf and refuse to support an industry built on cruelty and death."