Grand National organisers announce major changes to 2024 race amid safety concerns
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The Grand National will undergo dramatic changes for 2024 amid safety concerns, the race's organisers have confirmed.
The biggest race in British horse racing takes place every April at the Aintree Racecourse.
The track is run by The Jockey Club, who have now confirmed that the race will undergo some of the most significant changes in its 190-year history.
For the 2024 race, the number of runners in the race will be cut from 40 to 34, with The Jockey Club taking the decision 'in the interest of health and safety of all human and equine participants'.
Other changes include the first fence being moved 60 yards closer to the start line, while horses must begin from a standing start.
In previous years, horses have been allowed to set off from a running start, and there have been a high number of falls at the first fence.
Meanwhile, the time of the event will be moved to an earlier slot, which is yet to be confirmed, while an expert panel will 'scrutinise the jumping capabilities' of all entries.
Expanding on the decision to reduce the number of runners, the Aintree clerk of the course, Sulekha Varma, said (quotes via Racing Post): "We know from research papers and internal analysis of jump races that there is a direct correlation between the number of runners and the risk of falling, unseating or being brought down.
"However, we also must consider that reducing the field size by too great a number could create a faster race and have an adverse impact in terms of safety."
The reason for the change to the distance to the first fence is said to be in order to reduce the pace in which runners approach it - leading directly into the new standing start rule.
And the race will begin earlier in the day to reduce the likelihood of the course drying out before the National gets underway.
The other significant change involves the reviewing of horses, with a panel asked to 'apply a particular focus to those horses noted as having made jumping errors in four or more of their previous eight races'.
Last year's Grand National was won by Corach Rambler, who was the 8/1 favourite heading into the race.
The most successful horse in the history of the competition is the famous Red Rum, who won the race three times during in the 1970s.
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Topics: Horse Racing