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Grand National confirms major safety changes making races radically different

Grand National confirms major safety changes making races radically different

It's hoped the changes will make the race safer

The Grand National is set to undergo a major revamp following growing safety concerns.

The set piece event it one of the biggest, if not the biggest, racing meets in the world.

But despite the joy many get from it, animal rights campaigners have long raised questions over the dangers it poses for the horses involved.

The Grand National is one of the most dangerous races in the world.
Michael Steele/Getty Images

The packed line-up and high fences make it one of the most dangerous races around, with countless riders falling and injuring themselves, while horses have been killed as a result.

So in a bid to make the race safer, organisers have announced a reduced field of 34 racers, down from 40.

The first of the 16 fences has been moved 60 yards closer to stop horses from gaining too much speed too early.

The race will also set off earlier to allow for better ground conditions, and the running rail has been altered to help stop loose horses.

Speaking about the changes, last year's winning trainer, Lucinda Russell, said she backed it.

"I am fully supportive of reducing the field size and I don’t feel that six fewer runners will make a difference to the heritage of the race," she said.

"It can only be a good step and hopefully will help improve the start procedures.

"The level of welfare in racing is phenomenal and something we should be proud of. Once again Aintree is trying to make things safer."

The changes are aimed at making the race safer.
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Former winning jockey Ruby Walsh also said it was great to see positive steps being taken to make the race safer.

He said: "I think these changes represent the evolution of the Grand National.

"The world is ever-changing and the Grand National and indeed horseracing, like any other sport, has to be prepared to change.

"Risk can never be removed but you have to try and minimise it.

"Horse welfare is a huge part of horseracing – it’s a team sport between horse and rider and we are responsible for the welfare of the horse.

"I think the changes announced by The Jockey Club will enhance the Grand National as a horse race and help to ensure its future."

Featured Image Credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images/Michael Steele/Getty Images

Topics: Animals, UK News, Sport