Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised died duringthe Grand NationalPICTURE: Getty Images
RSPCA seek further changes to National
THE Grand National is clearly not safe enough, according to Gavin Grant, the chief executive of the RSPCA, who has called for further changes to the race following the deaths of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised and According To Pete in Saturday's John Smith's-backed showpiece.
Modifications were made to the course after two horses died in the race last year, but Grant wants further action.
He questioned the number of runners (40) and said the famous Aintree fences need examining again.
"It's clearly not safe enough," Grant said on Sunday morning. "Excitement and drama at Aintree yes, death and suffering no, has to be the message.
"Three horses have died at Aintree this week [Gottany O's broke down on the flat in a juvenile hurdle on Thursday] and five died at Cheltenham five weeks ago. Changes have to happen here.
"We recognise racing is part and parcel of the fabric of our country but we've all got a responsibility as human beings - after all the horses haven't got a choice, they can't make the decisions - to make racing as safe as it can be."
Grant, who was speaking to BBC Breakfast, added: "As far as the Grand National is concerned there are lots of factors, Firstly, the scale of the field. Forty horses is a heck of a lot. Secondly, there are unique jumps there that horses aren't experienced in going over and I think we need to look at those jumps again.
"Becher's Brook has claimed another casualty [According To Pete] and perhaps it's time for that to go.
"We need to look at the landing areas. Some improvements have been made there, but when you've got a drop on the other side of the fence a horse isn't expecting that. And the going. The ground conditions are very important. Aintree has made a lot of progress making sure the going is softer because when it's hard the horses run faster.
"There is lots of work tobe done to take the risks to horses out of this."
The National was won by Neptune Collonges, who was having his first start over the Aintree fences.
His trainer Paul Nicholls tweeted on Sunday morning: "Neptune Collonges fine today."