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    Grand National 2024 Analysis: Key Takeaways from the Event
Grand National 2024 Analysis: Key Takeaways from the Event
Grand National. Source: Racing Post

Grand National 2024 Analysis: Key Takeaways from the Event

The 2024 Randox Grand National has been praised as a resounding triumph, and officials at Aintree will be eager to capitalise on the positive feedback they received.

Now, let's examine key takeaways from this year's impressive event in Liverpool:

Quality triumphs over quantity

The decision to reduce the number of declared runners from 40 to 34 generated significant attention, and when two more horses withdrew on race day, it undoubtedly raised a few eyebrows. However, there was no cause for concern.

Despite the reduced field, 21 horses successfully completed the course, and numerous contenders remained in the running as they approached the final stretch. Therefore, there was no indication that the smaller field detracted from the overall experience.

Sir Anthony McCoy pointed out that the finish was exceedingly impressive. He noted that he had never witnessed such a multitude of horses vying for victory in the Grand National at such a late stage of the race. He described it as an extraordinary event, a truly magnificent spectacle.

The top contenders in the race demonstrated their class, as the first four finishers all had ratings of 155 or higher. I Am Maximus is now being considered a potential contender for the Gold Cup in the future, while Minella Indo, the champion of the 2021 Blue Riband, finished in third place.

Delta Work, who came in second, has achieved two victories in the Cheltenham cross-country races and has won multiple Grade One races. Galvin, who finished fourth, previously won the Savills Chase at an elite level a few years ago and also claimed the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham.

Recent winners like Corach Rambler (third place in this year's Gold Cup), Noble Yeats, and Tiger Roll highlight the high level of skill required to compete for top honours in the Grand National.

Willie Mullins. Source: The Mirror
Willie Mullins. Source: The Mirror

There is no need for restrictions on trainers and owners

Initially, there were discussions within the British Horseracing Authority about limiting each trainer to a maximum of four runners in prestigious handicaps. However, this idea was quickly dismissed, and in the end, very few people noticed that Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott collectively had 15 horses participating.

Some connections who did not secure a spot in the starting lineup may express dissatisfaction when observing that Janidil, an outsider with odds of 125-1, was withdrawn from the race. Similarly, Elliott's horses Chemical Energy (50-1), Farouk d'Alene (100-1), and Minella Crooner (125-1) were also pulled up.

However, it cannot be claimed that they were selecting participants based on their popularity, as demonstrated by Elliott's second-place finish with a 28-1 underdog named Delta Work and fourth-place finish with Galvin at 40-1.

JP McManus, a prominent owner, won the race for the third time, and I Am Maximus was one of five horses carrying his well-known green and gold racing colours. Nevertheless, nobody could have been happier to emerge as the victor.

Accompanied by his grandchildren, he expressed his delight to ITV Racing, stating, "I love everything about the race. I love Liverpool, the excitement of coming here, the build-up to the National, it’s just a very, very special place. When you win, it’s a wonderful spectacle."

The size of National fences is insignificant

Many of the previously daunting obstacles in the race are no longer as challenging as they used to be, and the first fence is now positioned closer to the starting point. However, there were no complaints as the race didn't witness any official falls or serious injuries.

Undoubtedly, the National race has become less demanding, and nobody longs for the days when exhausted horses struggled to clear massive fences or when fallen horses rolled back into the ditch at Becher's Brook, resulting in gruesome scenes.

The changes were clearly seen to have had a very positive impact, as stated by Jockey Club chief executive Nevin Truesdale, who expressed absolute delight. According to Truesdale, the National race was considered the cleanest he had ever witnessed, with a return to the number of finishers seen in 1992, which was a cause for great pleasure. The standing start was observed to have worked well, and the jockeys were deemed to have been very sensible, resulting in a race that was ridden exceptionally well. Truesdale credited all those involved for their outstanding performance and described the finish as really exciting, perfectly exemplifying the ideal National race.

The race was regarded as highly enjoyable and exciting by the Clerk of the course Sulekha Varma, who mentioned that many people approached her to express their positive opinions. Varma noted the large number of horses that remained in contention throughout the race and highlighted the presence of a fabulous winner.

Sam Waley-Cohen. Source: The Times
Sam Waley-Cohen. Source: The Times

The essence of the Corinthian spirit endures

It has been only two years since Sam Waley-Cohen achieved success on Noble Yeats, but a considerable amount of time had passed for the brigade of amateur riders, who had experienced significant triumphs with Charlie Fenwick on Ben Nevis, Dick Saunders on Grittar, and Marcus Armytage on Mr Frisk between 1980 and 1990.

Given the current high standard of jockeyship, it will require something extraordinary for a non-professional to emerge victorious once again, but the Corinthian torch was admirably carried by David Maxwell, who finished sixth on Ain't That A Shame.

The cheeky declaration was made by the millionaire property developer, stating that having as much fun as one can have with their trousers on had been experienced.

It was further added by the developer that while crossing the Melling Road, disbelief was felt regarding still being in touch. The realisation occurred, thinking, "Bloody hell, I am going to finish the Grand National." Subsequently, the thought emerged that finishing somewhere near the frame would be achieved. The expectation of the situation unfolding as it did had never been considered by the developer. It was described as an exhilarating experience.

While Gina Andrews, an experienced amateur rider with an impressive track record of ten championship wins in point-to-point races and over 400 victories, might have been expected to have higher expectations, she would have still been delighted with the performance of Latenightpass. Despite initially leading the race until two obstacles remained, Latenightpass eventually dropped back and finished in 12th place.

Watching racing should be an enjoyable experience

Nicky Henderson described the action on Merseyside as the “best three days racing you could wish to see anywhere”, and he didn’t even saddle a National runner.

He said: “It was a fabulous Grand National, with lots of horses getting round and everyone safe and sound, which is always paramount…it wants to be celebrated and paraded and everyone saying well done to everyone.”

Dickon White, who runs Aintree as the Jockey Club’s regional director, commented: “The Randox Grand National has a long and storied history and today will be remembered as one of the truly great races.”

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