THE Grand National will be run at an earlier star time this year – after ‘concerns were raised’ over safety.
The Jockey Club have confirmed the world’s most famous race, worth £1million, will go off at 4pm on Saturday, April 13.
Sunday TimesThis year’s Grand National will be off at the new time of 4pm[/caption]
The move comes as part of a radical overhaul of the Aintree feature, which includes slashing the number of runners from 40 to 34.
Punters up and down the country were last year glued to their TVs for the race’s start time of 5.15pm – which it had been in place since 2016.
But explaining the change, Sulekha Varma, clerk of the course at Aintree, said: “We leave no stone unturned in providing world-class standards of welfare for our participants and undertake a review after every Randox Grand National.
“These reviews look at a wide range of factors and the learnings from the process drives a number of changes, large and small, annually.
“In October we announced that one of the changes being made from 2024 would involve bringing forward the start time of the race, which has been 5.15pm since 2016.
“This was a decision we took after a number of participants and other racing stakeholders raised concerns about the long build-up to the race throughout the day and heightened tension as a result.
“These were not issues which had been identified as a problem when the race was previously staged at 3.45pm and 4.15pm.
“Bringing forward the start time of the Randox Grand National by 75 minutes to 4pm will also help us to maintain optimal jumping ground, as warm or breezy conditions can dry out the racing surface.
“We would like to thank both our broadcast partner ITV and the British Horseracing Authority for their assistance in helping to bring about this change to a race which remains a British institution, loved and watched by millions of people all over the world every year.”
Last year’s Grand National was marred by protestors storming the track minutes before the race, as police and local residents battled to stop them gluing themselves to the track and fences.
In addition to the new start time, the first fence has been moved 60 yards closer to slow the speed at which horses run into it.
The running rail which goes beside the track has also been altered to help capture loose horses.
The new off time was announced as the initial 94 entries for the race were revealed.
Harry Redknapp was among the big names entering runners – but the field was dominated by Irish-trained horses from the power stables of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott.
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