THIS is the moment that the Grand National meeting nearly ended in catastrophe for top jockey Ruby Walsh, a two-time winner of the great steeplechase.
As hurdling prospect Footpad came to grief at a routine hurdle, the horse was bolt upright as Walsh frantically rolled himself up into a human ball in order to minimise the risk from injury if his mount fell on his prone body.
Fortunately Footpad and Walsh walked away with unharmed, with the jockey later partnering Champion Hurdle heroine Annie Power to a sublime victory.
However Aintree’s opening day was overshadowed by two horses, Clonbanan Lad and Marasonnien, losing their lives in the Fox Hunters’ Chase over the National course.
Officials say both horses collapsed after being pulled up, and that neither death was associated with a fall.
“You can never remove all risk completely from any sport,” said the racecourse’s veterinary advisor Professor Chris Proudman.