Ryan Moore has urged the BHA to resist making drastic changes to the Grand National following the latest controversial renewal of the world’s greatest steeplechase.
Two horses, including Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised, had to be put down after breaking legs in falls at Becher’s Brook.
It was the second consecutive Grand National in which two horses had died and calls are being made for the BHA to take further safety measures to preserve the future of the Aintree spectacular.
But former champion Flat jockey Moore, a great advocate of the Grand National, wants to see the race remain the ultimate steeplechasing test but with some lighter modifications that would hopefully safeguard horses’ welfare.
“It really annoys me that the greatest race in the world is now seemingly under pressure,” said Moore, whose brother Jamie pulled up his mount Deep Purple in this year’s race. “It won’t be the same race and a true test if they keep making changes.
“I hope the BHA don’t pander to the RSPCA and welfare groups on this issue, and stand their ground and educate these people, not give in to them. The sport has to protect itself. You do that by not only listening but talking. And talking sense and getting your point across.
“I fully understand why some people have reacted the way they have to two horses dying on Saturday - and among them the highest-profile horse in the race - and obviously nobody wants to see that happen.
“But there is always a risk when you are training and racing horses. Unfortunately, horses are fragile creatures and can suffer injuries just as easily in a field as on the racetrack. There is no such thing as a safe race and people have to accept that.”
Moore believes the long run to the first fence of the Grand National, always at a frenetic pace, is one aspect that can be changed to reduce the number of casualties.
“I would consider a lights system for starting the race,” he said in his Betfair column. “I haven't spoken to any of the jockeys who rode in the race at the weekend but it’s surely impossible for all of them to hear the starter in all that noise. It's little wonder false starts are the norm.
“A lights system may help to get the race off to a better, organised start. So often in horse racing, the start sets the tempo for the race and the horses. If they are lit up too early, it’s not always a good thing.
“I know it’s tradition to see the horses charging to the first fence in the National, but I think there is clear logic in making the first fence bigger and moving it nearer the start. You have to make the participants respect the fences, so reducing the height of them is maybe not the answer.
“This year’s Grand National clearly wasn’t a great advert for the sport, but in many ways the race ironically showed horse racing at its brilliant best. Daryl Jacob rode a great race to win on Neptune Collonges and a more dramatic finish you’ll never see. It’s such a shame the feats of Daryl and Paul Nicholls have been overlooked.
“When I was growing up, I wanted to win the Grand National more than the Derby. It is a magical race, always has been.
“Now it’s up to the BHA to ensure it always will be.”