We may be six months away from the Grand National, but the famous race is in the headlines today with the announcement that the maximum number of runners will be reduced to 34 from 40.
After protests disrupted this year’s race, organisers have looked to implement changes to make the race safer, including reducing the number of runners, introducing a standing start and a shortened run to the first fence.
Nevin Truesdale, chief executive of Aintree owners the Jockey Club, said the changes were part of the organisation’s “relentless focus on welfare”.
There have been five fatalities from 395 runners in the last ten Grand Nationals, and for many animal rights activists, these proposed changes may still not go far enough. At the same time, racing fans are likely to argue that the modifications further dilute the unique event.
It should be noted that if the field had been reduced to 34 runners previously, two recent winners of the race - Auroras Encore in 2013 and Minella Times, who made history in 2021 when Rachael Blackmore became the first female jockey to triumph - would not have made the final cut.
The 2024 Grand National is scheduled for Saturday, April 13.
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