A number of changes are announced for the Grand National following a safety review, but the number of entrants is to stay at a maximum of forty.
An official inquiry was launched after the deaths of 2 horses in April. The starting line will be moved 90 yards nearer to the first fence, while measures can also be taken to prevent horses becoming trapped within the starting tape.
The Becher’s Brook landing zone is being levelled more, whereas there will be a review of fence styles. The changes to the start might slow the speed the primary fence is approached at. On field size, Aintree Racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said they believe the course and fences will accommodate a maximum of 40 runners, however they will “continue to watch” the issue.
The charity World Horse Welfare, while welcoming most of the changes, said it absolutely was disappointed the field size wasn’t being reduced. Following the review, the start can now be moved forward 90 yards, reducing the race to four miles and 3 and a half furlongs, from four and a half miles. In addition, the starter’s rostrum will be placed in a very prominant position that permits a “no-go zone” to prevent horses that false start climbing on top of the tape.
In last April’s event, Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised unseated rider Tony McCoy on the approach to the starting space and ran loose in a chaotic opening that was delayed and also featured a range of restarts. He later broke his leg in a fall and was put down.
The fence style project at Aintree will last three years and target using materials other than the timber and protecting rubber padding that make the central frame at present. Fence heights can remain unchanged. Becher’s Brook can “undergo further levelling of the wider landing zone, correcting the settlement which occurred following work carried out in 2011″, in step with the review.
The other horse to die within the 2012 race, Consistent with Pete, could have been injured when brought down by On His Own, who may have been unsighted at the fence, or when another horse, Weird Al, collided with him as he got up.
Fences four, 5 and 13 can also have their landing areas levelled to “smooth out undulations”. Alternative measures include a large sum of money being invested in irrigation to provide “the safest jumping ground possible” and a replacement bypass and pen around fence four to catch riderless horses.
In April, only fifteen of the 40 horses finished the race and the 2 deaths led to questions concerning the National’s future from animal welfare groups. Several alterations had been created to the course for 2012 after a previous review following the fatal injuries suffered by Ornais and Dooleys Gate in 201one. Per the BHA, twenty horses have died in races over Grand National fences since 2001 and 10 have lost their lives in the race itself in the past twelve years. Three horses additionally died within the 1998 race, while the opening day of the 2000 meeting was marred by four deaths.