Aintree Racecourse has taken a serious look at their course for the Grand National and has made changes to increase the safety to both the equine competitors, as well as their jockeys. The race will still be tough and fair. Due to the negative publicity that the race received when two horses had to be euthanized at their last meeting, bringing the total of horses that lost their lives during the race in the last ten years to six, officials have now made four changes to the course in the hope of preventing any further loss of lives.
To enable them to make decisions such as these, Aintree officials took in consideration the hundred and fifty letters they received in the mail from the public and consulted with senior trainers, World Horse Welfare, senior jockeys and the RSPCA, to make informed decisions on how to reduce the risk of injury to jockeys and horses. When looking back on the last ten years of racing, the committee found that the first six fences stood out as the problem areas, where unseating of jockeys took place and falls from the horses.
Fifty-three percent of incidents happened within these six fences. The first fence and Becher’s Brook (which is the sixth fence on the course) stood out dramatically, with twenty-one percent of the incidents happening on these two fences, securing them a position on the list of the fences that needed to be lowered. The first change that has been made was the lowering of the Becher’s Brook fence. The fourth fence also produced relatively high accident figures and will also be put under the trimmer.
When speaking to the jockeys they all confirmed that getting horses into the rhythm of the race was one of the key factors to being successful at the Grand National and it was found that the length of the race was not a key issue, so the distance will remain the same. Even though the changes do not seem too major, it is believed that subtle changes will increase safety greatly and ensure that future Grand National races will not be plagued by fatal injuries.