The Grand National course is to be altered in a bid to improve safety after this year’s event came under heavy press criticism. But some in racing oppose the proposals.

Aintree Racecourse and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) last week announced the interim findings of their review into the 2011 race.

The changes to the course and fences follow expert analysis of all races run on the Grand National course since 1990 and will be in place for the next race over National fences, the Becher Chase on 3 December.

The drop on Becher’s Brook is to be reduced to make a more level landing.

The first fence landing side will also be levelled, the fourth fence will be reduced in height by 2in to 4ft 10in and the height of toe boards on all National fences will be increased to 14in.

Julian Thick, of Aintree Racecourse, said: “The safety and welfare of horses and riders is always our number one priority.

“It is not possible to eliminate risk completely in horseracing. But I am confident the proposed course changes will have a positive impact.”

The RSPCA and World Horse Welfare welcome these changes, but some in the racing industry, including trainer Brendan Powell, H&H’s Marcus Armytage, winning trainer Donald McCain and owner Andy Stewart, who lost a Ornais in this year’s race, have all publicly defended the race saying it is challenging but safe.

This news story was published in Horse & Hound (18 August, 2011)