Weight in the Spotlight for Aintree Grand National
It is almost that time of year again, when the Aintree Grand National gets underway in April, and it is known to be one of the most difficult and strenuous steeplechase events in the world. The race is run over a distance of four and a half miles, and there are thirty fences for competitors to negotiate throughout this grueling race. Less than half the contenders even complete the race. With the weight ratios for the race recently being released, there is more discussion in regard to the weight that horses have to carry during this event.
As with many handicap races, it is no surprise that the better horses are given more weight to carry than their counterparts that are viewed as slightly inferior. The minimum weight is usually 63.5 kilograms, or ten stone, but in the Aintree Grand National, the weight can be completely different to the official handicap regulation that is used for other chase races. This means that the highest rated horses will carry more weight, and when the weights were released for the 9 April 2011 Aintree Grand National, many trainers were unhappy. Carrying too much weight can be extremely demanding on horses, especially as they need to clear the fences that stand between them and victory. The weight debate even has top jockey Tony McCoy rethinking his options. Even thought he won the Aintree Grand National last year with Don’t Push It, the new weight demands will see him carrying 5lb more than he did last year, which can play a role in his performance.
Many trainers remarked that they foresee their horses struggling with the allocated weights given. They feel that it is not fair to increase the load for horses that have performed well in the past, as it will most definitely influence their performance. Martin Lynch, trainer for Oscar Time, was one of the trainers who walked out the meeting slightly angered, saying that: “I'm not too happy. It looks like he's rated me a few pounds above my Irish mark and I haven't run the horse over fences since I've had him." Merigo trainer Andrew Parker also admitted that his horse was going to struggle. Horse racing analysts are concerned for the horses in regard to the amount of weight they are expected to carry while clearing fences. It seems that the weight issue for the Aintree Grand National is an ongoing debate, and it is hoped that in future a resolution will be found that will benefit the horses and their health.