My phone has been ringing all day with people asking me my views on the changes brought in by the Jockey Club ahead of this year’s Grand National. Listen, I totally get what they are trying to do and I’m okay with most of the decisions. I understand that they are simply trying to protect the long-term future of the race, but….
🔺 Field size reduced from 40 to 34
This just feels a bit harsh to me. I’d have thought that reducing the number by four or even two might have been the right starting point, but they have gone straight in with six. It certainly will make a big difference to the setup of the race and someone mentioned to me earlier that Minella Times wouldn’t have got a run back in 2021 if the restrictions had been in place then.
🔺 Moving the start 60 yards closer to the first
This is one of the things I totally get, but I feel it’s somewhat negated by the implementation of a standing start.
🔺 Standing Start
This is the one thing I just don’t get. The very nature of a standing start means that plenty will end up blowing the start and their pilots are left with no option other than to rush them up to make up lost ground. This therefore eliminates the benefit of moving the fence closer to slow the runners down.
🔺 Runners to be released by grooms at the end of the walkway
Spot on. No grumbles with that and it seems sensible to allow the horses to ‘prepare for their race in their own time’.
🔺 Jumping error review panel
Another thing I’m not that keen on. I’ve sat on good jumpers than can make errors and this game isn’t an exact science. Surely connections can be trusted with whether they think they have a sound jumper or not? Tiger Roll made errors in most races he ran in.
Davy Russell and Tiger Roll (centre) on their way to Grand National glory in 2019
On another subject altogether, Gordon is set to saddle my old friend Pied Piper in Saturday’s Cesarewitch…
PIED PIER –
Cesarewitch Handicap (2.40pm Newmarket, Saturday)
The team are really happy with this fella (pictured below on home gallops) ahead of Saturday and have done really well to book Ryan Moore for the ride. He is returning to the flat off what looks a fair mark and has won on the soft before should the rain arrive. This represents a very different test though and I cannot wait to see how he gets on. He jumps well and travels well – those attributes should stand him in really good stead. I see that he’s drawn out in 22 so that will hopefully help him get across and hold a decent position.