The Canal Turn incident that took three runners out of the Grand National on Saturday will be considered by Aintree officials as part of their annual reflection on the race in case anything should be done to reduce risk.
However, connections of Final Nudge are philosophical about the bad luck that meant their horse ran out of room when the field packed up at the race’s eighth obstacle.
“I jumped the fence fine, I just wasn’t allowed to get my landing gear down,” said Gavin Sheehan, Final Nudge’s jockey, who broke an arm. Sheehan said the congestion was caused by the pace slowing down after Becher’s Brook, two fences earlier.
The leader over the Canal Turn, Daryl Jacob on Ucello Conti, swung out wide to take the fence at an acute angle and save ground on the landing side, a particularly effective version of the manoevre made usually by the leader at that point. But when the packed field of 32 remaining runners followed him at a similar angle, some found themselves running out of room.
Sheehan said: “As soon as my horse got up into the air, the horse on my left came over a little bit and the horse on my outside came over, they basically came in a triangle in front of me. The horse on my right, Lord Windermere, I think he fell as well. The two of us were kind of knocked over.
“I think it was just because we were going a bit steadier. If we were going on a stride, I don’t think we would have been as congested as we were.”
Riding Lord Windermere, Andrew Lynch also said a steadying pace had been a factor. “We were all probably on top of each other then. He jumped it grand and there was nowhere to go. We were all squeezed up.”
Having tracked the pair of them, Andrew Wedge ran into the two tumbling horses and was unseated from Buywise. “It just got a bit tight,” he said.
All three jockeys were prepared to accept the incident as the kind of bad luck that arises in Grand Nationals. “I think it’s just one of those things,” Andrew Lynch said. “If they did any more about it, they’d probably take more away from the National. It’s just unfortunate.”
That was also the line taken by Final Nudge’s trainer, David Dennis. “You know when you go into the race that it can happen,” he said, “and unfortunately it was us that got sandwiched.” The horse will have some physiotherapy this week before getting the summer off.
Aintree long ago installed a false inside rail on the approach to the Canal Turn, which has usually helped to reduce such congestion. Its clerk of the course, Andrew Tulloch, will now consider if additional measures are needed.
“We will look at it, as we look at everything that arises each year,” he said. “We’ll have a discussion with jockeys as well. It’s very much getting their feedback on what other things we can do. It’s all evidence based.”
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