AINTREE will have to chuck gallons of water at the track before the Grand National to slow horses down.
That’s because the fences are now considered by some as less of a test than the Mildmay Chase course at the same venue.Jockeys think horses could run into the Grand National fences too quickly[/caption]
Like many, I was left surprised at how easily horses just skipped over the once infamous Grand National fences in Saturday’s Grand Sefton won in game style by Gesskille.
Most of the time the small field just seemed to brush through the birch with no qualms about the consequences.
And it was backed up by riders who have now experienced some of the latest modifications of the once Aintree spectacular.
One jockey said to me: “I completely get what you saw. I thought they rode small in the Grand Sefton and that was on heavy ground.
“I think it’s going to be a bit terrifying if we ever get to them on good ground. They are too straightforward.
“I honestly think the Mildmay Couse is harder to jump round than the Grand National fences right now. I was really disappointed with them.
“I used to get a big adrenaline kick out of them. I felt nothing this time.”
It’s hard for jockeys to speak out about the how the Grand National – one of the great British sporting institutions – has in terms of a jumping test become so much easier for animals.
GRAND NATIONAL: FIVE BIG CHANGES
Because of course those who don’t understand the event simply believe that’s a good thing as it means less injuries.
But speed in any sport is the biggest danger.
So while the fences are now a piece of cake, horses may well face much more danger from the clip riders can go without the old respect of the obstacles they once needed.
Another jockey said to me: “I was quite lucky to have started with the original frames and you really had to ride as a jockey and have the right kind of horse.
“In the Sefton I rubbed one of the new fences and just got away with it, while the ditches that used to be a good size are a hell of a lot smaller.
“Becher’s Brook I met on a terrible stride and before you would have to get right back and this time it was if it wasn’t even there.
“It’s a shame, and if it was ever genuine good ground you would get up some pace.
“You are jumping essentially a base which is just an easyfix fence with spruce tied in on top but you just brush the spruce off, so if you are midfield to the back you are basically just jumping an easyfix fence.”
AINT SO GRAND
I absolutely adore Aintree. But it’s having a tough time of things.
I wrote recently about the total farce of the bypassing of numerous fences left out because of low sun.
Not a word has been said about it since then. And then again at the weekend we had the same ridiculous situation.
Why has the BHA not stepped in? We might as well have National Hunt horses running down the straight at Newmarket over the winter.
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If a racecourse can’t offer jumps racing at a time of year when the sun might be out and at the wrong angle, then it should not have a fixture at that time of year.
There are plenty of racecourses that can race without this issue. Is it jumps racing or not?
HAVE SOME FUN
Caressing. Rhythmic. Cajoling. Positive. Strong. Harry Cobden’s riding had it all at Wincanton on Saturday.
I wrote in my paper column on Saturday that it was a big afternoon for Cobden. He did not let me down.
Even though he got beat in the main event on Threeunderthrufive.
That was a fine performance, however, because at one stage Cobden was looking down and was clearly concerned over how his mount was going.
But he did not give up, he kept on trying, and in the end got the best possible position he was ever going to get, which was a fine second, and finishing in front of his old friend and rival Frodon.
The jumps Cobden got out of Knappers Hill were a joy to behold in the novice chase, and he was also brilliant on the very green Meatloaf.
Incidentally, how there was no mention of the former singer in commentary, I will never know!
Now, I fully appreciate when I write things like that, you get the typical bore-festers who just say it has to be professional and you can’t have any fun in horse racing.
And this is no criticism of the commentator at Wincanton, because it’s clear, they are all just so terrified of doing anything slightly different.
But how Meatloaf did not scamper clear like a Bat out of Hell on the run in I will never know, or how he didn’t take his tally to ’two out of four’ which ain’t bad is beyond me.
It’s those little moments that end up on social media doing the rounds.
And while the purist will hate it, if you want to make a sport popular you have to think outside the box. Get people talking. Get people watching.
Because I once trained as a commentator, and failed, people will always criticise my view on the subject.
But one of the many reasons I failed was because I wasn’t a clone of all the others!
Back to Cobden, one can’t help feel he is one of those talented riders that will never be champion jockey, but has the ability to be so.
At the end of the day, it’s a numbers game, and it’s difficult to build up the numbers when you have to wait on plans from your boss.
And also there’s just simply no point in risking taking loads of outside rides unless they have an obvious chance.
That, though, prevents you banging in the unlikely winners – as I have said it’s a numbers game.
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