New start time for Grand National confirmed among safety improvements

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  • The start time for the 2024 Randox Grand National (13 April) has been brought forward to 4pm following a review of last year’s race.

    The Jockey Club, which owns and manages Aintree racecourse, revealed a number of changes to the iconic race in October. These included a new start time, which was to be confirmed following discussions with ITV.

    What time does the Grand National start?

    In recent years, the race has been scheduled for 5.15pm, but it will be brought forward to 4pm in a move to reduce “heightened tension” and ensure the best ground conditions.

    “We leave no stone unturned in providing world-class standards of welfare for our participants and undertake a review after every Randox Grand National,” said Suleka Varma, Aintree’s clerk of the course and The Jockey Club’s northwest head of racing.

    “These reviews look at a wide range of factors, and the learnings from the process drive a number of changes, large and small, annually. In October we announced that one of the changes being made from 2024 would involve bringing forward the start time of the race, which has been 5.15pm since 2016.

    “This was a decision we took after a number of participants and other racing stakeholders raised concerns about the long build-up to the race throughout the day and heightened tension as a result. These were not issues which had been identified as a problem when the race was previously staged at 3.45pm and 4.15pm.”

    She added: “Bringing forward the start time of the Randox Grand National by 75 minutes to 4pm will also help us to maintain optimal jumping ground, as warm or breezy conditions can dry out the racing surface.

    “We would like to thank both our broadcast partner ITV and the British Horseracing Authority for their assistance in helping to bring about this change to a race which remains a British institution, loved and watched by millions of people all over the world every year.”

    Other modifications to Aintree showpiece include a reduction in the maximum number of starters from 40 to 34, moving the first fence closer to the start, an increase in minimum ratings for horses and a standing start.

    A total of 94 horses have been entered for the 2024 race. Weights will be announced on 20 February.

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