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Grand National 2013: Aintree defends safety at course

4 April 2013 Last updated at 07:18 BST

Organisers of the Grand National at Aintree insist "safety and welfare are of paramount importance" at the meeting.

Managing Director of Aintree John Baker said modifications to the course had also maintained "the challenge of the race".

Two fatalities in 2011 prompted a major review into safety, with two more horse deaths in 2012 resulting in changes to the Aintree course for Saturday's race.

Welfare groups which advise racing have welcomed this year's modifications to the fences in particular, whilst stressing the success or failure of any changes to the Grand National can only be judged over time.

The Grand National Meeting gets under way on Thursday, with the first race of the three-day event tasking place at 14:00 BST.

John Maguire reports from the Aintree course.

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