| 14°C Dublin

Pete's owner Jefferson wants no more change

PAUL Bittar, the British Horseracing Authority's chief executive, will meet with animal welfare groups next week with the Grand National on the list of topics for discussion.

Once again the Aintree race is under scrutiny after two horses, Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised and According To Pete, lost their lives.

While both horses suffered freak injuries -- one fell while loose and the other was brought down by another horse -- there have been calls for further modifications to the course.

An extensive review was carried out following the race 12 months ago, which resulted in the drop on the landing side of Becher's Brook being reduced, but that appears to be the main talking point once more.

While plenty involved in the sport are resistant to more changes to the National course, the charity World Horse Welfare believes the public will 'not stomach' more tragedies. According To Pete's trainer, Malcolm Jefferson, obviously felt the loss more than most, yet he feels the changes to the course have gone far enough.

"They can't carry on making changes. In my eyes the fences should be bigger to slow them down. If they were a foot higher Pete would still have jumped them," said Jefferson. "Now they are trying to please everybody and you can't. People say make the field smaller, but what if next year another two die? Then they'll want 20 runners. Watering to ensure softer ground might help. There was a lot of carry on after last year's race and I just wish they'd stop trying to please everyone because you can't.

"It was just a freak accident. He was loving it, jumping for fun -- I always thought he would. If he'd just been brought down and got back up again we'd be taking him back next year, but he broke his shoulder, unfortunately."