Aintree racecourse: Image by Alan Cookson
Aintree racecourse: Image by Alan Cookson

New safety measures will come into effect at the Grand National, after many years of protests from groups protesting over the viability of the race in its current form.

The changes will see a 15% decrease in the number of runners in the race, with the National field going from 40 to 34. There will also be adjustments made to the height of the fences across the track, whilst the formal parade has been scrapped with horses and jockeys now making their way straight to the start of the race.

Many welcome the changes, but for campaign groups that vehemently oppose the National they argue that the changes do not address the fundamental problem with the race – which is the race itself.

They argue that the prestige and mystique that surrounds the Grand National, as well as the money that it generates, means that it is in an almost impossible position to be cancelled due to the countless stakeholders with a vested interest in the race.

It is the biggest horse race in the world and has been running for over 200 years. Over 500m people tune in worldwide, with over a 100,000 people attending over the three-day festival.

it clearly hasn’t addressed the major issues that we feel is important

The level of anger and distaste for the event was evident last year, as over 150 arrests were made for protesters trying to get onto the track.

This emphasised that although Aintree have acknowledged that changes need to be made, many will not stop until the race is cancelled all together.

MerseyNewsLive spoke to Animal Aid’s Dene Stransall, part of  a group that protests for the cancellation of the Grand National, on her thoughts about the changes made.

She said: “The news that came through about the changes was obviously welcome, but it clearly hasn’t addressed the major issues that we feel is important – the distance of the race, the fact that the horses still have to jump 30 very, very difficult fences.

“Because the fact that the race is still so demanding, we believe that the only way to save horses lives is to ban the Grand National. You can keep making small amendments over the years, but whatever happens the race will fundamentally still kill horses.”

Featured image: Alan Cookson



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