How many jockeys have been killed in the Grand National?
Tragically, the 1862 renewal of the Grand National was marred by the one and only human fatality in the history of the celebrated steeplechase. On that fateful day, debutant Joseph Wynne, whose father Denis, or ‘Denny’, had won the National on Mathew 15 years earlier, lined up on 33/1 chance O’Connell. Having raced in mid-division for much of the first circuit, O’Connell was involved in a melee at the fence immediately before the water jump, which would become ‘The Chair’ but was, at the time, a gorsed hurdle.
At that obstacle, Playman took off too soon and fell heavily, causing Willoughby to make a bad mistake, as a result of which he became unbalanced and was cannoned into, from behind, by O’Connell. Both horses came to grief, but while Willoughby rose without incident, O’Connell fell on top of the already unsconscious Wynne as he attempted to do so, crushing his jockey’s chest. Wynne was still alive when carried to the nearby Sefton Arms Inn, but died that evening with regaining cosnciousness. Aside from his physical injuries, pulmonary tuberculosis was also identified as contributing to his death.