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Monday, 21 January, 2019

False starts: there's not much more we can do says Aintree boss

John Baker: 'still plenty of drama' in the Grand National
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Saturday's two false starts were described as frustrating but understandable by Aintree chief John Baker, who claimed there is not much more the course can do.

It took three attempts to get the race under way and 31 jockeys were referred to the BHA for approaching the tape before the flag was raised.

Baker said on Sunday: "There are 40 horses and jockeys in that tremendous atmosphere on the biggest day of the year – of course it's frustrating for everybody, but it's understandable. Tension is high and people want to get a good start and good position.

"We've moved the start to try to get the horses away from the cauldron, but there are 70,000 people and they're still making a noise. We try to get the horses as calm as possible, we don't get them into racecard order for the parade now.

"We'll have a look at it, as we always do, but I'm not sure there's much more we could do."

When the field did set off, seven minutes late, only seven horses fell or unseated their rider, but Baker denied the world's most famous race has become less of a spectacle.

'Thrills and spills'

He said: "There was plenty of drama – the loose horse nearly carrying out Thunder And Roses on the first circuit, what happened to Definitly Red and a couple of bumped-intos, but not too many fallers.

"You've got to see that as a good thing. The race needs to bring excitement and drama, the thrills and spills are why so many people watch the Grand National, and we try to get that balance right.

"There were plenty of incidents, we had a fantastic story in the winner, and we're not getting a 3-1 favourite winning."

No horses lost their lives at the meeting, and Baker said: "Five Nationals without a fatality is good, but it's been going 170 years so that's only a small amount of time. As ever, we'll look at things and see if there's anything else we need to do."


Year       Fell     Unseated rider

1997          6               4
1998          13             4
1999          6               3
2000          16             5
2001          11           13
2002          15             7
2003          5             11
2004          9               7
2005          4               7
2006          11             6
2007          7               7
2008          11             8
2009          12             3
2010          11             7
2011          11             3
2012          11             6
2013            2             6
2014            8             6
2015            8             2
2016            5             6
2017            3             4

Randox Health Grand National result and analysis

We'll have a look at it, as we always do, but I'm not sure there's too much more we could do
E.W. Terms
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