The 2013 Grand National willhave a new starting pointPICTURE: Getty Images
BHA and Aintree make changes to National
AINTREE racecourse and the BHA on Thursday announced several recommendations and modifications to be implemented before the 2013 Grand National, including moving forward the start by 90 yards.
The race will therefore be run over a distance of about 4m3½f, having previously been run over 4m4f. There were some calls for a reduction in the field size but this will be maintained at 40 runners for 2013.
A review was conducted in the wake of a false start and the death of two horses in this year's race - Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised and Peter Marsh Chase winner According To Pete.
The decision to move the start is in part due to a desire to take the horses further away from the crowds and grandstand. Other changes to the start include doubling the distance of the "no-go" zone to 30 yards from the starting tape.
Changes to the position of the starter's rostrum and the visibility of the starting tape will be implemented, and a pre-race briefing between the starter and jockeys is also scheduled.
Jamie Stier, director of raceday operations and regulation for the BHA, said: "Our objective in recommending changes to the start is to identify ways in which we can create a calmer and more controlled environment for both horse and rider. We recognise that there is pressure and tension before the race and we want to alleviate that where possible.
"It is possible that a more controlled environment at the start, along with reducing the distance between the start and the first fence, could have the effect of reducing the early speed of the race. If this were to be the case, it would be an added benefit."
From this autumn the BHA will also make "a concerted drive to redress the sometimes much faster approaches towards the tape which can occur in bigger races as the jump season progresses".
A selection of other modifications are to be made including to fence design, landing areas and further investment in irrigation.
The current "core" materials used in the construction of the famous spruce fences is under review, with several prototypes to be trialled at the Becher Chase meeting in December.
The landing side of fences four, five and 13 will be levelled out, while the wider landing side of Becher's Brook has undergone further levelling to correct the settlement which occurred following works carried out in 2011.
A further £100,000 will be invested in further improving the course's watering capabilities, while another catching pen for loose horses will be trialled in the region of fence four.
John Baker, who runs Aintree racecourse as part of his role as north west regional director for Jockey Club Racecourses, said: "With regard to the modifications and improvements made to the course, all the measures have been carefully considered and are evidence-based, in line with Aintree's ongoing commitment to safety and welfare. We will continue to repeat this process on an annual basis and monitor the many variables involved."
Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, added: "We welcome the sensible changes that the British Horseracing Authority and Aintree Racecourse have announced today concerning the John Smith's Grand National.
"We believe that the approach taken by the BHA and Aintree has been considered and appropriate. The PJA as well as individual jockeys were consulted and our input was clearly welcomed.
"These relatively modest yet important modifications will hopefully be for the long-term benefit of the world's greatest steeple chase."