Saturday’s Aintree National acclaimed as ‘cleanest’ renewal with no fallers

21 finishers from 32 runners was the highest number to complete the course since 1992

The alterations made to Saturday’s Randox Aintree Grand National have been praised for helping produce what has been described as the “cleanest” renewal of the world-famous race.

There were no fallers in a race famed as the most gruelling test in National Hunt racing as 21 of the 32 runners completed the course. It was the highest number of finishers since 1992. There were two non-runners from the original maximum declared 34.

There were four casualties, but they were all unseated riders. The quartet included the 2023 winner Corach Rambler who exited at the first fence and then fell at the second when running riderless. He was unscathed afterwards as were all the National runners. Seven horses were pulled up.

Despite soft ground conditions, and the winner I Am Maximus ultimately scoring by over seven lengths, rarely before have more runners been in contention in the closing stages of a National, something that former champion jockey Tony McCoy described on ITV as a “brilliant spectacle”.


For a race annually under spotlight from a horse welfare perspective, and which saw animal rights protesters delay the start by 15 minutes a year previously, Saturday’s outcome represented an ideal result for racing authorities in Britain.

Reducing the maximum field from 40 was one of a number of changes introduced by the Jockey Club, which owns Aintree. The first fence was also moved forward while the 11th fence was lowered by two inches.

“The changes have clearly had a very positive impact. I think it was probably the cleanest National I’ve ever seen,” the Jockey Club’s chief executive, Nevin Truesdale, said.

“You’ve got to go back to 1992 to find more finishers, so we’re really pleased. I think the standing start seemed to work and I thought the jockeys were very sensible and it was a very well-ridden race, great credit to all involved.

“It was a really exciting finish, the National exactly as we want it,” he added.

If traditionalists might argue that and point out how integral to the National’s popularity has been a sense of lottery, the absence of negative welfare headlines in the aftermath underlines the race’s new reality.

Rachael Blackmore, who partnered Minella Indo into third, and was a 2021 winner on Minella Times, said the race didn’t feel any less exciting to ride.

“I got a nice passage round and had plenty of space when I wanted it. It was still a fantastic race to ride in,” she said.

The former dual National winner Ruby Walsh commented on ITV’s coverage: “It all looked to be a success. I know I enjoyed watching the race and it was a great showpiece for the sport.

“It’s how we advertise what we have and if that doesn’t convince people that it’s a wonderful sport, I’m not sure what will.”

Not surprisingly, animal rights bodies would argue that too and the Animal Aid organisation pointed to a pair of equine fatalities at Aintree on Friday. Giovinco sustained fatal injuries in a fall over the Mildmay course fences while Pikar fell in a handicap hurdle.

In other news, Wednesday’s rescheduled Gowran card is the latest to fall foul of the weather after 70mm of rainfall in the last week.

Clerk of the course Paddy Graffin said conditions had improved slightly over the weekend but conceded defeat on the meeting getting a green light.

“It has been a trying autumn, winter and spring as everyone knows and it has been frustrating for everyone. But despite the great work of the team at Gowran this is out of their control and Wednesday will come too soon,” he said.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column