VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Betting Tools

Grand National scrutiny after recent deaths

AINTREE, England (AP) - The Grand National races are under scrutiny after four horses died in the past year at the event.

The world's most grueling steeplechase begins on Saturday, and there's concern about the safety of the horses after two died in each of the last two races.

The National - a 4 1/2-mile, 30-fence race - remains one of the fixtures on the British sporting calendar, attracting millions of television viewers and visits to bookmakers each year. Past winners, such as three-time champion Red Rum, have been adopted as national treasures.

One euthanized horse was Synchronised, the favorite and Cheltenham Gold Cup champion at the time.

Recent modifications to the course have failed to satisfy critics and animal rights groups who call for the event to be scrapped. Ten horses have died in the Grand National in the past 12 years, and 20 have died in races over Grand National fences since 2001.

``I hope to God there are no accidents this year, but these things happen,'' jockey Katie Walsh said.

Jonjo O'Neill, the trainer of Synchronised, agrees.

``It's always been a fantastic race and it still is,'' O'Neill told The Times of London. ``People saying the National should be stopped just don't understand. Some of the things said about us are an insult, as if we are animals ourselves. There are people out there stabbing and shooting, killing randomly, and sometimes it seems we are being put in the same bracket.''

The severe injury suffered recently by JT McNamara, who was paralyzed after falling from his horse during the Cheltenham Festival last month, has also increased concerns about the safety of jockeys. Many of the famously high fences involve sheer drops.

Organizers are faced with balancing the race's enduring appeal and attempting to keep it as risk-free as possible. They settled on changes to fence design, landing areas and course irrigation following a review in May.

The start has been brought 90 yards forward, away from the noise of the crowd in the grandstands, after issues in the 2012 race and in 1993 - when the race ended up being declared void.

There will still be 40 horses involved, despite criticism of a congested field leveled at the National. Becher's Brook - the much-feared fence - also keeps the same drop and dimensions.

Usually one of the fiercest critics of the race, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, has been impressed by the changes.

``In all honesty they have done more than I thought they would,'' said David Muir, the RSPCA's equine consultant. ``Fundamentally, the changes that have been made are major already.

``They've taken the cores of the fences out, there is a cooling-down area now, there's a water system and there's a reduction in the number of drop fences. We'd still like to see changes to Becher's Brook, the drop is still a concern.''

More fatalities this weekend would leave the event open to more criticism.

``As a team we're going in very positive and with confidence in the race, its history and its tradition,'' said John Baker, who runs the Aintree course in Liverpool. ``By anyone's standards, there was bad luck involved last year.''

Unlike last year, the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner won't be going for the distinguished steeplechase double, not achieved since 1934, because Bobs Worth hasn't entered.

Reigning champion Neptune Collonges has retired, leaving only one previous winner in the field - 2011 champion Ballabriggs.

The early favorite with British bookmakers is Willie Mullins-trained On His Own (15-2) while Seabass and Cappa Bleu, who were third and fourth last year, are heavily backed.

Imperial Commander, the 2010 Gold Cup winner, has entered and is top weight.

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

News: 2018 Pegasus WC Odds
News: 2018 Kentucky Derby Odds
Mourinho wins Smarty Jones at Oaklawn
Wood Memorial boosts upcoming purse
Thoroughbred group to be honored
Horse tests positive for equine herpes
HOFer who trained Alysheba, dies
Jolley, 2-time KD-winning trainer, dies
Mike Dempsey Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup.
The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes.

Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.

Mike also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.

No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track!

Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card.

Join Mike daily with top picks from Aqueduct. Breeders' Cup-->. You can also get his Weekend Best Plays Report in his Multi-Track package or sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
Jerry Sessa Jerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins.
Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.

In the 2015 Belmont Stakes Jerry dominated races 8-11 by hitting a $4,400 Pick 4, 3 Daily Doubles, 2 Pick 3's and calling American Pharoah as the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.

Jerry is always looking to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown success, when he selected the winning horses for The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes.

Jerry looks forward to working with everyone and making money for anyone who invests in his picks on a daily basis.

Join Jerry daily with picks from Aqueduct and Del Mar or choose a package that contains selections from Multiple Tracks for the LOW PRICE of $19.95! Or better yet, how about 30 Days of horse racing picks with his Monthly Racing Package for ONLY $99.95!
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership