Clerk says water jump one of safest obstacles on the course
Aintree clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch has described the track's water jump as one of its iconic fences and stated there are no plans to remove it after the BHA released statistics to show there were fewer falls at water jumps.
Last week Racing Post columnist Steve Dennis said water jumps, which are no longer obligatory on racecourses, should be filled in, describing them as relics from the past that were "simply a method of putting a racehorse at unease, a method of breaking his stride and his concentration".
But far from being unsafe, according to the most recent BHA data, the average number of falls at water jumps over a five-year period was 3.29, compared to at the average fence which had 10.43 fallers. Additionally, the risk of fatal injury from a fall at a water jump is less than half than at a normal fence.
Aintree's water jump is positioned in front of the stands and is the 16th fence jumped in the Grand National, immediately after The Chair. At 2ft 6in, it is the only fence lower than 4ft 6in, and has a 12ft 6in spread.
It has produced very few Grand National fallers, although four came down in 1968, the previous year's winner Foinavon among them.
Tulloch said on Tuesday: "It's part of the tradition of the National, and being sited in front of the stands it is another spectacle. It's a different type of obstacle and nice to have in front of the stands.
"Along with The Chair it's one of two iconic jumps in that area. There have been no discussions about removing it."
Sandown's water jump is on the far side of the course and another not under threat, according to clerk of the course Andrew Cooper.
"The water jump comes midway through the line of seven fences down the back straight," he said. "It's not a great public viewing spectacle, but it comes at what is a long patch of open ground that really needs an obstacle to slow horses down before they head to the Railway fences.
"If we did away with the water jump, and I'm not suggesting we will, it would have to be replaced with a plain fence, which on statistical evidence would probably produce more fallers."