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National's critics way off mark

A PEAK audience of 10 million viewers tuned into Saturday's Grand National showpiece at Aintree in which the Evening Herald's Katie Walsh became the most successful lady rider ever by finishing third, but the loss of Gold Cup hero Synchronised and According To Pete was a devastating blow to the race.

Both of the horses that were lost on Saturday were home bred by their owners and both sets of connections were inconsolable afterwards. As soon as the word emerged that two horses had lost their lives, the uproar began, and once again, most of it was so extreme it turned into ignorance.

A reduction in the size of the field or withdrawing some of the more dangerous fences -- including the much-feared Becher's Brook -- are some of the suggestions made by critics.

Nobody involved in horseracing wants to see horses killed and anyone who knew the connections of either horse had a heavy heart following the news.


The humble surroundings where According To Pete was bred and the emotion of his owners on television prior to the race were that of affection.

JP McManus is, without question, the most generous man in the sport and his charity stretches far outside the boundaries of horseracing.

He provides the very best of care for his runners, and the fact that Synchronised was his first Gold Cup winner, and home bred, will have left him distraught.

The sad fact of the matter is, though, that it doesn't matter who represents racing, nor what they say, as the people looking to modify or even ban the Grand National don't seem to want to listen.

Indeed, making the fences smaller, more than likely, added to the pace of the race and the less respect the horses had for the obstacles in front of them.

If they were bigger, horses would back off them more and they may, in turn, be safer.

The Grand National is a test of a horse and rider, it has been around much longer than anyone reading this paper.

Nobody wants to see horses killed, but unfortunately it is part and parcel of everyday life, not just this race.