Two horses die in Grand National steeplechase

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:10 PM ET

Two horses have died following the Grand National steeplechase in England.

The horse Ornais reportedly died after falling at the fourth fence, while Dooneys Gate died from injuries after he fell at the fence known as Beecher's Brook as the Aintree racecourse near Liverpool.

A statement from the League Against Cruel Sports called the race "ritualized animal cruelty" and said "everyone involved should be thoroughly ashamed."

Trainer Donald McCain followed his father, Ginger, into Grand National folklore by winning the world famous steeplechase with Ballabriggs. Ridden by Jason Maguire, Ballabriggs held off the strong challenge of amateur Sam Waley-Cohen on Oscar Time to win by two and a quarter lengths. Last year’s winner Don’t Push It was third.

The League Against Cruel Sports, which has called for an end to the race, also alleged Ballabriggs was "seriously dehydrated" following the race.

The U.K. group Animal Aid said just 19 of the 40 horses finished the race. The two deaths brings to 20 the number of horses who have died on the course since 2000, the group said.

"The public has been conned into believing that the Grand National is a great sporting spectacle when, in reality, it is straightforward animal abuse that is on a par with Spanish bullfighting," Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler said in a statement on the group's website.

- with files from Reuters


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