07 Apr 2013 Pre-2014 Releases

Paul Bittar, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), said of the 2013 John Smith’s Grand National:

“Every running of the Grand National is hugely important for British Racing in terms of both the image and economics of the sport, but few will have had as much resting on their outcome as the 2013 race.

“The level of scrutiny and pressure the racecourse and the participants were placed under was not warranted but there nonetheless, and as a result all involved deserve great credit for their contribution to a very positive outcome.

“With much more than the hundreds of millions of pounds of punters’ money riding on it, we are very pleased for Aintree Racecourse, the sponsor, all the participants and Channel 4 as the sport’s broadcast partners that the race went well and once more provided such a compelling and exciting spectacle.

“The smooth start, reduced faller rate and absence of injury to either horse or rider is a powerful endorsement for the safety measures introduced not only this year, but also those implemented in recent years. The evidence shows that the welfare record of races run over the Grand National course has been one of steady improvement over the last decade.

“Aintree’s undoubted commitment to the welfare of horse and rider has already been demonstrated through its substantial financial investment in safety measures. Working together with the racecourse the BHA is determined to maintain that trend and further manage levels of risk, while acknowledging there is no such thing as a risk-free National.

“British Racing has both a track record and current programmes to be proud of with regard to horse welfare. Consequently, prior to the race it was frustrating to witness other parties exploiting the media attention on the Grand National to claim otherwise. A turnout of around 30 protestors outside the course compared to the sell out crowd of 70,000 and millions more on TV puts the level of support for the race into some perspective.

“However, one incident free running of the race gives us no sense of complacency. We will continue to demonstrate our unceasing commitment to horse welfare and to articulate our strong record so that the race’s reputation – and that of the sport in general – is not held hostage to fortune by those with nothing invested in the sport.

“Our congratulations go to the owners of Aurora’s Encore, together with Sue and Harvey Smith and jockey Ryan Mania. And our thanks go to all the jockeys who rode in the race. It was very encouraging to see how smoothly the new procedures at the start worked, helped considerably by the sensible approach adopted by the jockeys. This in turn set the tone for the rest of race, throughout which they all rode responsibly, with several pulling up their mounts when it was appropriate to do so.

“The Grand National is our biggest shop window to the sport, and it was gratifying after a couple of tough years and a testing build up, that the 2013 running once again showed it in its best light.”