*Aintree and BHA announce changes to the Grand National to create a * 'more controlled environment'_
Aintree Racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) today announced a package of considered changes to the John Smith's Grand National.
An official inquiry was launched after the deaths of two horses in April.**
A number of measures will be introduced following that safety review but the field size is to stay at a maximum of 40. Campaigners claimed that one of the key issues with the course was the sheer number of horses that take part.
The start will be moved 90 yards closer to the first fence, while measures will also be taken to stop horses getting caught up in the starting tape.
The changes to the start may slow the speed the first fence is approached at. The infamous Becher's Brook landing zone will also be levelled further, while there will be a review of fence designs.
Changes to be implemented to the Grand National :
- Start to be moved forward by around 90 yards, away from the crowds and grandstands
- The Grand National will be run over a distance of about 4 miles 3½ furlongs
- The "no-go" zone defined by a line on the track will be extended from 15 yards to around 30 yards from the starting tape
- Starter's rostrum moved to a position between starting tape and "no-go" zone to reduce potential for horses get on top of the starting tape prematurely.
- More user-friendly start tapes to be used, with increased visibility
- With effect from this autumn, a concerted drive to redress the sometimes much faster approaches towards the tape which can occur in bigger races as the Jump season progresses. This will involve a more consistent methodology across the Starters' team in the application and enforcement of the Rules at the start of a Race, and greater rider cooperation.
- A specific briefing between the Starters' team and jockeys on the day of the Grand National
- Additional measures put in place to minimise the possibility of a rider-less horse travelling an extended distance before being caught prior to the start
Jamie Stier, Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation for the BHA, said:**
"Aintree and the BHA's approach has been to reference the findings of the comprehensive 2011 Review, while taking account of any additional data and evidence collated from this year's race.
"This includes the BHA's thorough report into specific incidents in the 2012 running published in May.
"Following this year's race, our priorities were to establish the facts surrounding the incidents that occurred during the running of the race and, secondly, to review the events which led to what was an unsatisfactory start to the race.
"We have worked closely with Aintree and consulted widely with jockeys, trainers and legitimate welfare organisations - the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare - on a range of elements related to the race."