The racing world held it's breath on December 8th as the Becher Chase, run over the Grand National fences, underwent their first real test since modifications were made following the deaths of Synchronised and According To Pete in the 2012 National.
A true test, the new fences worked a treat and with two races being run over them – Betfred Becher Chase and the Betfred ‘Goals Galore’ Grand Sefton Chase – all went well with just five falls and two unseated runners from the 25 horses that went over them.
Aintree’s north west regional director John Baker said “We were delighted with how the Grand National fences jumped today, including the trial fences, and we had some fantastic feedback from the professionals.
“So it is all systems go for the John Smith’s Grand National meeting in April.”
The jockeys too were suitably impressed with double winner Sam Twiston-Davies saying “If there were any changes it didn’t seem obvious.”
Fellow rider Conor O’Farrell, who finished third on Swing Bill in the Becher, said: “I thought they rode brilliantly. All the fences seemed very presentable.”
The changes were small but important and outwardly the fences looked no different but four of them have been rebuilt with softer cores should the top spruce be knocked off during a race.
The fences with the alterations were the 13th and 14th fences, the last two jumped over any race on the National course. They now have plastic inserts. The other two fences are open ditches, the third and the 11th, which have a traditional birch frame and are built up over that.
Fingers crossed the 2013 Grand National on April 6th will be just as successful!