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2012 Grand National Meeting, My view and other things.

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    Neil Watson
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    As usual since 2002 i attended the first two days of the Grand National meeting, for me the Thursday is the best day of the lot, i mean when Big Buck’s is the support for a Hunter Chase over the big greens then thats ok by me.

    What has happened in Saturdays race is of course tragic for all connected with the respected horses but on the flip side it was good for John Hales who no doubt was still apprehensive about coming to Aintree given what happened to his beloved One Man back in 1998 when sadly losing his life in the Melling Chase.

    As usual the people are coming out of their bunkers with their yearly assault on the race going on about the field size,fences,distance of the race and so forth, now these are always important questions which must be looked into and answered after a good deal of research instead of some quick fire reply basically taking them to all take a hike.

    So lets try and work a few things out.

    1 The field size.

    Is 40 to many? Well in the other races over the GN course the maximum is 30 runners and they are at two different starting points on the course yet their have never been any major problems apart from jockeys trying to get one over the starter but this happens in the National anyway.

    2 Fences.

    Yes the fences are different given that they are made of Spruce from the Lake District but size wise are the same of normal Steeplechase fences give or take the odd inch.

    Maybe a new criteria could be that all horses entered must go to Aintree and run a trial over 10-14 fences just to show that they can cope with them?

    3 Distance

    Is 4m4f to much over jumps? The other races over Four Miles or more are the Scots,Midlands,Eider and the Novices Amateur race at the National and many horses are suited by the trip, in face Tidal Bay would probably be suited by Five Miles but we wont go into that.

    4 Horses ability and ratings.

    It has been notable to get a better quality of horse in the race but over the years their have been many horses running who had a low rating and where carrying 10st and should have been on 8st in the long handicap yet many got round in their own time keeping out of the way of the major players.

    Maybe they should go back to making it an open handicap because their are plenty reliable jumpers at the lower end of the ratings who would get round.

    5 Time of the year.

    Over recent years it has been the norm for having 3-4 weeks from Cheltenham to Aintree but the weekends in between have been very dull with some very average Saturday cards that do not really inspire people to have a bet myself included.

    One idea could be to have the Festival the week before the Imperial Cup and on the Saturday after Cheltenham you could have a C4 double header of the Midlands National and the Imperial Cup which would in essence be the second division of the County Hurdle, then have the Winter Derby followed by the Lincoln then go into the Grand National meeting.

    The week after this you could move the Craven Meeting and the two day Spring meeting at Cheltenham both to a Friday and Saturday with TV coverage and have the best of both worlds for the racing public with the normal April schedule as normal depending of course how Easter falls in each year.

    As regards the National it may not be as important and as classy a race as the Gold Cup but it still is THE race that people talk about, at work this morning i heard two ladies talking about what they had a bet on but i know for a face that they wont give two hoots about the Derby.

    In Australia the Cox Plate is the Premier flat race but for the millions it is still the Melbourne Cup that is the race that stops a nation.

    I love the Grand National, it is the first race that i watched and was allowed to pick some 25p bets for and it still gets my nerves on edge each time it comes around.

    Their may be problems but they can all be solved without being tackled in an overreacting state of mind.

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