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Owner Andy Stewart has hit back at criticism of Saturday’s Grand National at Aintree following the death of two horses in the race.

The Stewart-owned Ornais suffered a fatal injury when he fell at the fourth fence of the world’s most famous steeplechase while the Willie Mullins-trained Dooneys Gate also lost his life when he came to grief at Becher’s Brook first time round.

Stewart believes the reaction to the fatalities has been over the top in some quarters.

“He was a lovely horse and when you lose them, it is very sad,” Stewart told At The Races.

“We all take our chances in life, horses and all animals take their chances in life. This was unfortunate, but I think the nonsense that has been written is a disgrace.

“Sadly, the horse fell at the fourth fence and died instantly. We’re still grieving as far as that’s concerned and I think this whole hyped up situation regarding the Grand National is totally wrong in my opinion.

“We had Strike The Deal who was a Flat horse with Jeremy Noseda. He unfortunately had to be put down because he was ill, but that didn’t make the papers.

“We love the sport and when I get up to read the papers, I think why are people writing this nonsense? Nobody has phoned me and nobody has phoned Paul Nicholls.

“Everybody is entitled to their point of view but as far as I’m concerned, National Hunt racing is safer and compliant with every single sport that goes along.

“My son snowboarded in France and, unfortunately, he had an accident and he’ll never walk again. Why don’t we just get on with it and enjoy the sport?”

Nicholls echoed Stewart’s sentiments.

“It’s awfully sad to lose any horse, whether it’s in the Grand National or at any time at all,” he said.

“We’ll pick ourselves up and move on – you have to. It was a great week and I have to say Aintree did a brilliant job with the track.

“I’ve never seen the course in such fantastic condition but unfortunately, although this is a great sport, accidents can happen.

“Like one paper said this morning, it doesn’t matter how safe you make the M1, the M4, the M5 or whatever, you’re always going to have accidents.”


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