New measures will be applied to next year’s Grand National as racing’s authorities attempt to satisfy public criticism about horse welfare at the same time as maintaining the traditions that make it the world’s most famous race.
In an attempt to prevent a disorganized start to the race-this year’s was deemed ‘unsatisfactory’ as officials grappled to fix the tape-the starting line will be moved forward by about 90 yards, away from the crowds. Greater efforts will be made to slow the rush towards the tape, with the onus on jockeys as much as officials. ‘We recognise that there is tension before the race, and we want to alleviate that where possible,’ says Jamie Stier of the British Horseracing Authority.
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‘It’s possible that a more controlled environment, and reducing the distance to the first fence, could have the effect of reducing early speed.’
The race will be slightly shortened, by about half a furlong, which is enough of a distance to have changed the course of Grand National history- Red Rum would not have beaten Crisp in 1973 if the winning post had come sooner. Becher’s Brook will have a modified landing, and there will be an additional catching pen in an attempt to corral loose horses and prevent them weaving erratically through the field.
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