Safety changes to Grand National
A number of changes will be made to one of the country's most famous horse races. The next Grand National will see a number of changes, following a safety review, but the field size is to stay at a maximum of 40.
However, the start will be moved 90 yards closer to the first fence in the hope that it will slow the speed at which it is approached, while measures will also be taken to stop horses getting caught up in the starting tape.
In addition, the Becher's Brook landing zone is to be levelled further and there will be a review of fence design, with £100,000 being invested in irrigation to produce "the safest jumping ground possible."
No change will be made to size of the field, however, with Aintreee Racecourse and the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA) believing the course to be able to accommodate the maximum of 40 runners, but the issue will continue to be monitored.
The review came after the deaths of two horses during the race in April, which provoked questions about the National's future from animal welfare groups.
Jamie Stier, director of race day operations and regulation for the BHA, said: "It is possible that a more controlled environment at the start, along with reducing the distance between the start and the first fence, could have the effect of reducing the early speed of the race. If this were to be the case, it would be an added benefit."
Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare has welcomed the changes made to the course, although expressed his disappointment that the field size is not to be reduced. He commented: "While there is clearly no magic formula here, changes need to be made to significantly reduce the faller rate which will reduce the number of injuries, fatalities and loose horses which pose risks to themselves and others on the course."