The Ainsley Grand National is renowned for the number of horses that don’t finish every year. In 2011 only 19 of the 40 horse field crossed the finish line (with a jockey) and two horses died.
This week, the Grand National Review Group (with input from the Aintree Racecourse, the British Horseracing Authority, The British RSPCA World Horse Welfare, jockeys and trainers) announced a series of changes based on analysis of all the races run on the Grand National course since 1990 — the last time the course was significantly changed.
According to an article on www.horsetalk.co.nz, The course changes announced are:
1. The landing side of Becher’s Brook (fence six on the first circuit and fence 22 on the second circuit) will be re-profiled to reduce the current drop (i.e. the difference in height between the level of the ground on takeoff and landing) by between 10cm (4 inches) and 12.5cm (5 inches) across the width of the fence. This will provide a more level landing area for horses. After the work is complete the drop will be about 25cm (10 inches) on the inside of the course and 15cm (6 inches) on the outside of the course. This difference in drop from the inside to the outside of the fence is being retained to encourage riders to spread out across the width of the fence and also to retain the unique characteristics of Becher’s Brook. The height of the fence will remain unaltered at 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 metres).
2. Levelling work will also be undertaken on the landing side of the first fence (fence 17 on the second circuit) to reduce the current drop and provide a more level landing. By doing so, this amendment aims to avoid catching out horses that may ‘over-jump’ the (first) fence in the early stage of the race. The height of the fence will remain unaltered at 4 feet 6 inches (1.37 metres).
3. The fourth fence will be reduced in height by 2 inches to 4 foot 10 inches (1.47 metres). It was identified during the review that fence four and fence six (Becher’s) were statistically more difficult to jump than other fences in all races over the National fences and this is the reason for this change.
4. The height of toe boards on all National fences will be increased to 14 inches (36cm). Toe boards are the orange board, positioned at the base of the fence and provide a clear ground line to assist horses in determining the base of the fence.
The modifications will be in place before the next race on the Grand National course, the Becher Chase on Saturday, December 3rd.
So, do you think it will help?