British Horseracing Authority (BHA) figures won’t be pushed into a knee-jerk reaction following the deaths of two horses during the running of the 2012 Grand National. This year’s Gold Cup winner Synchronised and According to Pete both died after crossing the controversial Becher’s Brook fence that was adjusted prior to the race to make it safer. Paul Bittar, chief executive of the BHA, offered the group’s “deepest sympathies” to those with connections to the two horses whilst at the same time pointing out the fence wasn’t entirely to blame.
“We are reasonably advanced in the process of examining the incidents which led to Synchronised and According To Pete being put down. While that process still needs to be completed, it is relevant to point out that although both horses lost their riders jumping Becher’s Brook, Synchronised galloped away from the fence seemingly without injury and then subsequently incurred a fracture to a hind leg when jumping riderless, while According To Pete was brought down by another horse on the second circuit,” he said.
Both tragic events will take away from perhaps the most compelling running for a number of years. Neptune Collonges pipped Sunnyhillboy at the line by an inch as just 15 of the 40 horses finished the race. The bookies were thankful just one of the races heavily backed horses made it through to the last with a fighting chance and Miss Katie Walsh on board Seabass could do no better than third. David Williams, spokesperson for Ladbrokes, told the Telegraph it meant sportsbooks had much to celebrate.
“The result could scarcely have been any better. Neptune Collonges slipped off most radars and most of the cheers at Aintree came from the bookies,” Williams said.
The same paper reported £300 million worth of bets were placed on the race and not a lot of this went on the winning horse. BetVictor were the one firm left ruing their decision to offer an unprecedented six places each-way as one of the favorites Ballabriggs came home.
“The win book was very good but the offer on Ballabriggs cost us well in excess of six figures although turnover went through the roof as a result of the concession. We offered the same concession last year and that cost us when The Midnight Club sneaked into our extended frame and punters certainly latched onto the additional places this year.” said spokesperson Charlie McCann.
Over the coming weeks and months the future of the race will be subject of fevered debate as many of the groups surrounding the pursuit try to make it safer. As with any sporting occasion there will always be an inherent risk involved and if too many changes are made it will undoubtedly take away from the spectacle itself.