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Friday, April 05, 2013

The 2013 Grand National: The Intelligent Punter's Guide

This piece of mine appears over at The Week.

THE TIMES they are-a-changin. After two horses died at last year's Grand National, the Aintree authorities have made further changes to the world's most famous steeplechase in an attempt to make it safer. They include levelling the landing zones at some fences, including Becher's Brook, where the ill-fated Synchronised and According to Pete both came down 12 months ago, changing the make-up of the fences, and moving the start of the race forwards by 90 yards.
These changes are not the only things that will be different about this year's race, due off at 4.15pm on Saturday. For the first time live television coverage will be provided by Channel 4, and not the BBC, which has shown the last 52 Grand Nationals.

You can read the rest of the piece and my profiles of the 40 runners in tomorrow's race here.

UPDATE: What a race- and great that all the horses and jockeys came back safely. I hope that the Guide to the runners proved helpful to those having a bet. Just one day later, winning jockey Ryan Mania had a crashing fall at Hexham and had to be airlifted to hospital. Here's my piece from today's The Week on why, compared to other sports professionals, jump jockeys really are a race apart.


K Naylor said...

The Grand National should remain dangerous. If horses do die, it's a pity. but it should not detract from the annual excitement of the race.

Life is risk. Formula One Racing drivers take the risk of death as well. The contrary argument is that humans can choose whilst animals cannot.

Asumming even that this is true ( i.e about free human will ) the average terror of an animal being hunted by a fox may well be said to outweight the terror caused by a fox hunt.

This is why the draconian ban on fox hunting imposed by New Labour ought to be repealed by a real Toty government. Humans are part of the natural order of animals at the apex of the animal kingdom.

The poet Ted Hughes was of like opinion.

If a person doesn;t like Hungarian pig killings ( I have participated in them ) then simply became a vegetarian. Or, as the Hungarians cruelly joke, emigrate to Romania.

The English have a hypocrital disdain for the notion of animals being "killed for sport", not lest if it is considered unnecessary. Usually, they are banal cranks such as the mediocre comedy writer Carla Lane.

Horses who perish at Beecher's Brook are killed in accidental circumstances no less than Formula One Racing drivers. As long as they are put out of their suffering rapidly, nothing bad can come of it.

I am against this sanitisation of life, the reduction of excitement and risk by dreary health and safety advocates ans anti-smoking bores. I smoke only when I drink alcohol.

Yes, it might shorten my life. But I will do so willingly if the health and safety jobsworthy cretins preside. Yes. if work practices and avoidable accidents can be averted, let's work toward that.

But life in Britain is becoming more and more life denying, more anodyne, more sanitised. That's why I emigrated. I'd be in a loony bin had I stayed in Britain. Not by my CHOICE, of course.

K Naylor said...

BTW, the demonisation of Orban is going on. The Anglo-Hungarian writer Tibor Fischer offered a magnificent riposte to Orban's detractors in the Guardian. I have myself written four blogs against the faux cultural left who promote neoliberal policies on my own blog.Please start writing on Hungary again if you can and best regards to your wife. I'm myself , married to a Polish lady who told me about the reality of Poland after the Balcerowicz "Plan". Her mother ( no communist supporter at all ) said to me this Easter that they experimented with our country".