Grand National horse race: Review due on 2012 Aintree race

The official review into this year's Grand National race is likely to be released next week. Two horses, Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised and According To Pete, died in the 14 April race at Aintree. It was the second consecutive year in which there were two fatalities in the four-and-a-half mile race. Those deaths led to questions about the race's future, but so far there was no response from Aintree and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). Now they are preparing a report which will focus on the key areas of the race track.

The critics would like to see the size of the field significantly reduced from 40 horses to around 30. That would reduce congestion, especially over the opening fences, and thus make the race safer. Others argue there is no evidence a smaller field means a safer race. Moreover, die-hard fans of the Grand National say that the sheer scale of the race is what makes it different.

Also, making the fences smaller might not be a viable solution, if it speeds up the race it could actually make it more dangerous. However, research is being done into the way the fences are built. As for the start, the options for Aintree and the BHA are to alter either the procedure or the position of the start as the opening stages of the race have been identified as the most dangerous.

Aintree and the BHA have surely considered the emotional response to the 2012 Grand National, and they will be aware that their credibility and that of the famous race depends on the support of the RSPCA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and World Horse Welfare.

However, risk can never be entirely removed from the Grand National and that risk is after all an essential ingredient in the race's character. But everybody seems to agree that the risk should be reduced in order to avoid casualties.

The Grand National, one of the most famous horse races in the world, is a National Hunt horse race which is held annually at Aintree Racecourse in England. It is a handicap steeplechase run over a distance of 4 miles and a half, with horses jumping 30 fences over two circuits.The race has been held at Aintree each year since 1839, with a few exceptions during the two World Wars.

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