Aintree lands safety praise for new fences

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HARVEY Smith has praised the new-look Grand National fences that saw every horse and jockey return unscathed following Saturday’s race.

Last year’s contest was marred by the deaths of two horses, including the Malton-trained According To Pete who was brought down at the notorious Becher’s Brook.

“Full marks to Aintree...and even the RSPCA man. He has thrown his bit in, they have all worked hard and it is onwards and upwards for the Grand National,” he said.

“I never feared for the race. You can’t listen to a load of wimps. They’d stop everything. They’ve tried to ban boxing and motor racing but the sports bodies get it as safe as they can. You can never legislate for a freak accident.”

His wife Sue expressed frustration that the issue of safety revolved “around one race a year” when racing works on the issue for 365 days a year.

RSPCA equine consultant David Muir still believes that 40 runners is too many, but he added: “I would say something like 30 and move until you find the actual premium number you would want. The race was won by one of the best horse-loving trainers in the country. They go round from course to course, Harvey and Sue, and those two people have taught me a lot about racing.”