Bowen 'distraught' over McKelvey claims

The connections of the Grand National's one fatality, McKelvey, are distraught by implications by animal rights activists that his death was due to their negligence. The nine-year-old, running for the third time since sustaining a tendon strain close home when finishing second last year, suffered irreparable injuries when running loose after unseating Tom O'Brien at the 20th obstacle.

"He ran into a post," said a spokesperson for Peter Bowen's stable. "It could have happened at any course. It had nothing to do with the fences and certainly nothing to do with his previous injury. He was fit and well."

Poignantly, McKelvey's comeback had been the subject of a BBC series, with his progress under daily scrutiny. "He was as good as ever, if not better," added the spokesperson. "Peter and Karen [Bowen's wife] did a fantastic job with him and these unfounded accusations are highly distressing."

The most serious human casualty, Mick Fitzgerald, was described as "comfortable" by the Royal Liverpool University Hospital yesterday, but rather less so by his guv'nor and great friend Nicky Henderson. Fitzgerald, 38, was knocked out briefly when L'Ami came down, though has apparently broken no bones. "He's very battered and sore and tired," said Henderson, "but the important thing is that everything is working OK."

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