Aintree racecourse is to move the start of the Grand National as part of package of modifications to the famous race.
The changes are part of a review undertaken with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). It follows the deaths of two horses in this year’s race – Gold Cup winner, Synchronised and According to Pete.
The moderate package sees the start of the race moved forward by about 90 yards. Start tapes with increased visibility will be used – in an attempt to avoid the two false starts of this year’s race. And additional measures will be put in place to minimise the possibility of a rider-less horse travelling an extended distance before the start.
Synchronised unseated AP McCoy and ran loose for several minutes ahead of the 2012 race.
Jamie Stier of the BHA said: “It is possible that a more controlled environment at the start, along with reducing the distance between the start and the first fence, could have the effect of reducing the early speed of the race.”
Aintree and the BHA are also researching alternative fence designs for the Grand National course. The landing zone at Becher’s will be levelled further, although this will not alter the drop or height of the fence.
World Horse Welfare said it was “disappointed” that the changes did not include reducing the size of the field.
Chief executive Roly Owers said: “We believe the number of fallers and horses being brought down by other horses in the National is too high.
“We believe the single most effective way of doing this is to trial a reduction in the field size,” he said.