No horses fall during Grand National after safety changes made

Safety changes to the Grand National saw the highest number of horses cross the finish line since 1992.

Aintree racecourse said no horses fell and 21 out of 32 finished the race, with I Am Maximus ridden by Paul Townend coming in first.

A number of changes – including a reduced number of competitors – were put in place by organisers after last year’s race was delayed when protesters made their way onto the track.

Randox Grand National 2024 – Grand National Day – Aintree Racecourse
Runners and riders jump the Chair during the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase (Mike Egerton/PA)

Seven horses were pulled up and four unseated their riders but none of them fell in the race on Saturday, a spokesman for the racecourse said.

Mac Tottie was attended by veterinary professionals and taken for further assessment.

This year’s race was held at the earlier time of 4pm, which organisers hoped would “ensure optimal conditions” on the track.

Other changes included a reduced field of horses, a standing start, a reduction in height to one of the fences and added foam and rubber toe boards on every fence.

The Jockey Club, which runs the course, said the changes were not a result of the protests but were “data-driven” and followed an assessment of recent Grand Nationals.

Orla Coghlan, from Animal Rising, said: “A horse may not have died during this race, yet one is killed every other day in British racing, and that’s just the public face of the industry.

Randox Grand National 2024 – Grand National Day – Aintree Racecourse
Paul Townend celebrates winning the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase aboard I Am Maximus (Mike Egerton/PA)

“People are becoming more aware of the cruelty of horse racing, and we are relying on public pressure to help us take this ‘sport’ off our screens, and consign it to the history books.”

The race was hailed as one of the best ever by former winning jockeys.

Sir AP McCoy said: “It was the most wonderful finish. I’ve never seen so many horses in with a chance of winning the Grand National so late in the race. What an incredible race – just a brilliant spectacle.”

Ruby Walsh, who won the Grand National twice, added: “If that doesn’t convince people that this is a wonderful sport then I don’t know what will.”

The winner of last year’s race, Corach Rambler, failed to claim victory for a second time on Saturday, unseating jockey Derek Fox at the first fence.

Paul Binfield, spokesman for bookmaker Paddy Power, said: “Around 20 seconds and Corach Rambler taking an unfortunate tumble at the first saved us over £5 million.

“The winner was spotted by many punters, but despite that the bookies have had a result.”

The event was also enjoyed by racegoers at the course.

Bill Taylor, 77, who was on his great-nephew’s stag do, said: “It’s iconic isn’t it? It’s on my bucket list and here I am. I can’t believe it, what an occasion.

“I’ve been to Wembley, I’ve been to San Siro, I’ve been everywhere but I’ve never been to Aintree. It is buzzing.”

Accountant Brad Okopsyj, 26, from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, came to the races dressed as Elvis for his stag do.

He said: “It’s a great atmosphere and I love racing.”

Famous faces at the course included former Liverpool footballers Ian Rush and Sir Kenny Dalglish, ex-Hollyoaks actress Sarah Jayne Dunn and Olympians Sam Quek and Kelly Sotherton.

Sir Kenny said: “It’s always a fantastic day at Aintree. There’s great atmosphere in and around the place – it’s fantastic.”

Bill Gowers, 61, from Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire, said he was at the racecourse for the ninth time.

He said: “Cheltenham is for the posh set, if you will, but Aintree is the people’s race and it is the people’s place.”

Merseyside Police said six people were arrested at the course on Saturday after almost 60,000 racegoers turned out.

A force spokesman said a man was arrested on suspicion of sexual touching, a woman was held on suspicion of assault, two men were arrested on suspicion of assault of a constable and a man and woman were arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly in a public place.