National No Disgrace

As said before I think the Grand National needs to be made safer with more stringent checks and qualifications on runners. Crucially cutting the field to 30ish runners. Nonetheless and not withstanding today I don’t think it’s a big issue in reality as it is a one off not a facsimile of racing the rest of the year. 

As a racing fan I can do without its prominence. It is unrelated to any other racing you can see. Its clichés and carnage a caricature of heroism and disaster. Yet the loss of racehorses in a one off event is not a stick to beat a whole sport with. Horse deaths whilst regrettable and to be avoided at some cost are just that, horses dying. It’s a relatively minor moral issue in the grand scheme of things but something those of us who follow and especially those who work with horses should expect something done about.

Racing seems to be accepting the National has an issue because it keeps tinkering with the race. Yet it makes changes that in essence make the race more dangerous by increasing the pace. It’s notable to me, but maybe not statistically significant, that many of the falls occur early in the race. Reducing the size of the fences means that flatter faster trajectories are taken and the speed does not taper off.

For all the changes only 16 finished on good ground with even palpable non stayers in contention 2 out – it was not that hard run. Favoured horses littered the early falls.

My view that we should increase the qualifications would actually be counter productive without a field size reduction as it would make the race more competitive. Indeed maybe trainers are the best judges based on this year’s entries. That 2 horses with some chance were lost and In Compliance with no obvious chance and a descending profile was 5th tends to show that maybe the need to force runners to qualify is not essential – albeit unlike last year the Pipe, O’Neill and Nicholls yards ran no seeming fun runners with little chance to complete in a reasonable time.

A reduction to less runners and means to slow the pace are needed whether this is extra bends, watering, higher fences or whatever means a death rate of 18 per 1000 runners is too high. Indeed one wonders with changes aimed at making the race safer being arguably the other way if that will not rise.

The idiots will be out but given the profile of the race and the loss of a Gold Cup winner. Racing needs better answers than faux or worse negative changes.

I may be wrong about the reasons for falls but falls lesson with a decrease in the number of runners and that is fact.

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