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Dramatic National Finish

Drama until the line - but do we need it?

Davy Russell, the oldest jockey in the race, capped a magnificent riding career when he rode Tiger Roll, one of the most accomplished little horses of the last few years, to a dramatic last- gasp victory in the 171st Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

In a race watched by over 600 million television viewers worldwide, Tiger Roll stayed out of trouble – and there was plenty of it, with many of us wondering if we really needed to be watching.

Grand National 1993


Tiger Roll was a second National winner in three years for Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, and a second for trainer Gordon Elliott who won it with Silver Birch in 2007 before he had ever saddled a winner in Ireland.

The race was shown live on Tellytrack but there were complaints from various punters that Saftote was not functioning properly. We have not been able to ascertain what the nature of the problems were.

There were also a few negative comments about the race on our Facebook page and thankfully 37 of the 38 starters were safely in their stables last night, although 26 did not finish:

Perfect Candidate – fell at the 1st

Blaklion – brought down at the 1st

I Just Know – fell at the 6th

Houblon des Obeaux – fell at the 6th

Virgilio – fell at the 6th

Captain Redbeard – fell at the 7th

Buywise – unseated rider at the 8th

Lord Windermere – unseated rider at the 8th

Final Nudge – fell at the 8th

Chase The Spud – pulled up before the 15th

Alpha Des Obeaux – fell at the 15th

Saint Are – brought down at the 15th

Delusionofgrandeur – pulled up before the 17th

Maggio – pulled up before the 18th

The Dutchman – unseated rider at the 23rd

Thunder and Roses – pulled up before the 26th

Ucello Conti – unseated rider at the 26th

The Last Samurai – pulled up before the 27th

Tenor Nivernais – pulled up before the 27th

Shantou Flyer – pulled up before the 27th

Total Recall – pulled up before the 29th

Warriors Tale – pulled up before the 29th

Pendra – pulled up before the 30th

Double Ross – pulled up before the 30th

Carlingford Lough -pulled up after the last

Childrens List – pulled up after the last

Read more about the 2018 Grand National

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23 comments on “Dramatic National Finish

  1. Gavin says:

    This is not racing

    1. Conan says:

      Not racing? This is the epitome of horse racing in the country that started horse racing!
      It has everything that sport is about. Competition, sportsmanship, quality horses, the best Jockeys in the world and carnage all in one.
      Traditional Jumps racing at it’s finest.

  2. Ian Jayes says:

    They were “steeplechasing” (racing horses from church steeple to church steeple, over gates, ditches and fences) long before they raced horses on the flat. It definitely is racing and it demands great courage and horsemanship.

    1. Conan says:

      Too right. Top class racing and horsemanship.

  3. IAN says:

    Who wrote this – “do we need it”? Of course we do! The comments above are spot-on and it’s a pity SA wears blinkers when it comes to jump racing. Cheltenham and Aintree are the two most exciting festivals of the year (not forgetting Punchestown) and the packed grandstands are testimony to the support there is. Sure it’s dangerous – but so (apparently) was racing at Scottsville today……

  4. Brian says:

    I think it’s a load of…..

  5. Brian says:

    By the way ed, are you courting controversy here, or, just debate?

    1. Editor says:

      Debate is healthy – we had a few FB and email comments about the race.
      Only about 12 (just under 30%) actually finished.

      1. Judith says:

        The Independent reported: “The death is the first in British racing this month, and comes after six horses were killed during the Cheltenham Festival in March.” These shocking figures cannot continue to be hidden behind words such as ‘tradition, courage, packed stands,’ etc etc. It remains an archaic, cruel sport. Jump jockeys may indeed be brave considering the dreadful risks they take, but at least they have a choice. Those poor horses don’t.

  6. jim says:

    im not sure that a horse was put down. always been a fan of this race since i was a kid listening to red rum. however i think it is unnecessarily dangerous due to the big field. at least a third of the entries dont have a chance of getting around so i think if the field was limited to 25 horses it would be much safer and a more acceptable number would finish . unfortunately its a bit like the july. everyone wants a runner so the field is way too big for the track. imagine what a good race the july would be if 16 horses ran

  7. intergoal says:

    Ed, just for the record, no horses were euthanised during the race and at the time of writing, every horse who started the race is back safe in its stable. It’s extremely disappointing that you did not check the facts before publishing your comment.

    The National represents probably the greatest test in our sport and a huge amount has been done to ensure the well being of horses and riders over the last 25 years. The race divides opinion like no other and faces constant criticism, much of it uninformed, its vitally important that those of us involved in the sport make sure our views, whether for or against, are consistent and based on the facts.

    1. Editor says:

      The facts are from publications closer to the action than we are Intergoal.
      We have temporarily removed the comment in order to again verify the facts.

      We also noted that during the race a screen was erected around a fallen horse at a jump where the jockey involved was waving horses around.What exactly happened there?

  8. jim says:

    that horse was saint are he fell at the chair. 12 yo having his 5 th run in the race with two places. he received on course treatment behind the screens .spent the night at aintree under observation and went home the next day. so far so good . no fatalites

    1. Editor says:

      Thanks Jim – good to hear that

  9. intergoal says:

    Ed, I would have thought a look at the Racing Post website would have cleared up any misunderstanding. As I said above, this is a sensitive subject and we must be certain of our facts before rushing to print.

    Screens are erected around injured jockeys or horses, in this case it was around an injured jockey. The only horse that did not immediately return to the stables after the race was Saint Are, he was brought down at the Chair, he got up and continued until he fell when running riderless at a later fence, he was shaken up but recovered and is now fine and back home.

    1. Judith says:

      With reference to my earlier post I should have emphasized that a horse died over the three-day Aintree meeting and not during the race. That by no means makes the it any nicer. The same Irish Independent reported 6 horses deaths at the Cheltenham Festival earlier in the year. A sensitive subject? To whom?

  10. intergoal says:

    Judith, I would think it is a sensitive subject for us all, that is why it is so important that we base our opinions on facts not conjecture and supposition. You are absolutely correct to state that a horse was killed at Aintree earlier last week and that six were killed at Cheltenham. There is an ongoing BHA investigation into the deaths at Cheltenham.

    From what I saw, none of these deaths could be attributed to anything other than the normal risks inherent in jump racing. Huge efforts have been made to improve the safety of both horse and rider and the sport is safer now than its ever been, at least in terms of matters under normal control. However, horses and riders are much fitter these days and races tend to be run at a faster pace than in years gone by. This, coupled with the apparent increased fragility of the modern racehorse (debatable I concede), may be contributing factors to the high rate of attrition.

    Is the sport cruel? It depends on your viewpoint, I can certainly accept that some people think its cruel. Do the horses have a choice? Of course they don’t, no domestic animal has a choice, many of them subjected to far greater cruelty than racehorses. Where do we draw the line and what is our criteria? If we draw up a list in order of cruelty, I suspect we would find jump racing a long way down and how much further down (or up) that list is flat racing?

    Is it acceptable to use animals of any kind for sport, remember that whilst the idea in horse racing is competition not killing. The objective in some sports is for animals to fight to the death, or even to be pursued or hunted by humans with the objective of killing them.

    Can we be supporters of flat racing but not jump racing because of our views on horse welfare? Is jump racing really any more cruel than flat racing, it is for certain that there are less fatalities on track but what happens to the horses off track. Jump racing probably saves many ex flat horses from an ignominious fate by offering them a second chance. Jump trainers will often allow more time than flat trainers in allowing horses to recover from injury. Even when jumpers come to the end of their racing career many of them have a further career as Point to Pointers, hacks or hunters.

    It is terrible when any horse loses its life in a race, flat or jumps. We do not feel comfortable about it and nor should we. However, having had the experience of losing a horse myself at Aintree in the past, I can assure you that the loss for those closest to the horse is shattering. The more so with those who look after these brave jumpers, they have often looked after their horse for five or more years, spending almost every day with them and building a unique bond. They go back to an empty box to which their pride and joy will never return.

    I would not try to tell anyone what to think about jump racing or anything else for that matter. What I will say is that it’s important to look at things in the round before condemning a sport enjoyed by millions. If you have already done so then you are absolutely fully entitled to your opinion.

    1. Judith says:

      Thank you for this, intergoal. I certainly don’t intend to come across as someone calling for the end of all horse sports. History has shown us that the importance of the horse in the modern world has rapidly declined to the point that, should the sports be stopped for any reason, the future for the horse would look pretty bleak.

      However, as the great Tesio said in his marvellous little book, horses are not built for jumping. Unlike the felines, they don’t do it naturally – that is why they don’t jump out of paddocks. And every time I see them being made to run and jump over great distances and how so many of them look shattered as they stagger past the finish post, something inside of me is repelled. There are the exceptions, like Many Clouds, Arkle, Red Rum – but they ARE the exceptions. The majority just look finished at the race’s end.

      And Many Clouds’ death surely poses some questions.

      He obviously meant a lot to you.

      1. Rian says:

        Hey Judith, would love to hear your views on the kickback into the horses at the various courses especially Meydan where the horses covered in dirt and the jockeys eyes well protected but not the horses. How do they clean them and how are the horses eyes tested ??????, just wondering how to protect the EYES

        1. Judith says:

          Spot on Rian. Thinking of Dancing Brave – one of the greats On his final appearance in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita Park in California “Dancing Brave suffered an injury in the race when he was struck in the eye by a clod of turf.” “He was known to often pass on his parrot mouth to his stock. In November 1987 he was found to be suffering from Marie’s disease[20] and had fertility problems in 1988.[21] His modest early success led to his being exported to Japan, to stand at the Shizunai Stallion Station at Hokkaidō in 1991. He died on August 2, 1999 of a heart attack.” (Wikipedia)[22]

          What would have happened to him if he had been a gelding? Intergoal asks this question, which I am trying to answer. I don’t know. The jockey in Meydan has goggles and can ultimately walk away – but your Dancing Braves cannot.

  11. intergoal says:

    A price worth paying?

    Wherever you stand on this debate its worth taking a look at the video behind this link. No jump racing means no more Many Clouds and other great hero’s of the sport like him. He brought immense joy to everyone connected with him.


  12. Intergoal says:

    As I mention in my earlier post, its all about where we draw the line in terms of animal welfare. Horses often finish ‘out on their feet’ in jump races, just as they do in long distance races on the flat, look at any recent renewal of the Ascot Gold Cup for evidence of that. Winners will look fresher and we admire them for that and for their fortitude in proving themselves up to the challenges we set them.

    In any athletic pursuit there is a difference in the aptitude required depending upon the event. Sprint races put the emphasis on speed whilst the longer distances put the emphasis on stamina and the courage to push beyond limits. These athletic tests go right to the heart of the development of the thoroughbred. In the early days of the sport a horse was expected to prove its ability at sprint distances early in its career and then progress through the distances. St Simon won over five furlongs at two and won the Gold Cup over two and a half miles at three.

    In more recent times this has changed, commercial imperatives put the emphasis on speed rather than stamina. This has resulted in a divergence of flat and NH (jump) stallions in the UK, France and Ireland. Breeders will decide on which route they want to take with their mares depending upon their characteristics. Either route is legitimate so much so that in Europe there are separate auctions for ‘flat bred’ and ‘jump bred’ horses.

    This validates the jump race program from a commercial standpoint. Breeders need to identify successful jump stallions just as they do flat stallions. Whether it is true or not, there is a widespread perception that the consequences of the search for speed has had a negative effect on the thoroughbred breed. It’s notable that the recent success of German thoroughbred stallions has, at least in part, been put down to them sticking more closely to the original thoroughbred breeding model rather than the modern ‘search for speed’.

    It’s important to take this into account when we discuss the future or otherwise of jump racing. There is a tendency to think that jumpers are disposable because they can’t reproduce (most of them in any case) and this perhaps colours peoples view of the sport. If we look more in depth I think we will find that, if anything, it is the flat horse that is disposable rather than the jumper.

  13. Judith says:

    My final comment on this thread is: we need forums like this to discuss the future of our horses. Sporting Post provides it, but people like intergoal need a path to carry the baton forward. Reading all the posts that are (supposedly) related to jump issues – the blanket covers many other issues. Intergoal brings up the issue of stress of the sprinter, of the failure in our breeding programmes that have promoted speed above endurance (a wonderful article exists out there on the loss of the Princequillo line (St Simon, endurance et al)). I don’t know the answers – who does? But conversation opens doors to perception – everybody out there has a solution. How wonderful it would be if we could integrate, meld – whatever terminology is preferred – if we could gather all the horse lovers in the world, and plot a future for these wonderful creatures that does not involve pain or stress.

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