Jockeys compelled to walk Grand National course if inexperienced over the fences
Aintree has tightened its safety initiatives, announcing on Monday that jockeys who have not ridden over the Grand National course more than twice will be required to attend an official walk of the course with a BHA jockey coach.
The Professional Jockeys Association is supporting the move, which will involve riders in the three races over the spruce-covered fences at the Randox Health Grand National festival next month.
Carl Llewellyn, twice a winner of the Grand National, and former fellow top jockey Brian Harding, third on Simply Gifted in the 2005 National, have been enlisted to pass on their knowledge of riding the unique course.
Andrew Tulloch, clerk of the course at Aintree, said: "We've staged course walks at the meeting for a number of years and seen positive results.
"This is the first time it will be mandatory for certain jockeys. Those required to walk the course can do so on any one of the three days."
One jockey who would have recommended the walk even if it had not become compulsory for less experienced riders is Harry Cobden.
Cobden, who has won the last two Topham Chases on the Colin Tizzard-trained Ultragold, said: "I thought the course walk was a great idea so went around with Carl Llewellyn on the Friday ahead of the 2017 Topham Chase.
"I subsequently won the race on Ultragold, and Carl's advice and insight proved invaluable – so much so I walked the course with him again the next day before the National!"
Paul Struthers, chief executive of the PJA, said: "Voluntary course walks have been in place at Aintree for a number of years and have been a success, whilst the mandatory course walks introduced for this year's Cheltenham Festival worked very well.
"We were therefore very happy to support this decision, with the course walks taking place at multiple times across the three days under the guidance of BHA jockey coaches."
Aintree and the PJA will be writing to jockeys next week concerning arrangements at the meeting, and those riders who need to undertake a course walk will be notified by the BHA at the declaration stage.
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