Several changes will be made to England's Aintree Racecourse's steeplechase track for the 2012 running of the famed Grand National after two horses died during the 2011 race, according to a report from the BBC.
In this year's Grand National, Ornais, a 9-year-old French-bred Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Nick Scholfield, died after breaking his neck during a fall at the fourth fence on the course. Dooney's Gate, a 10-year-old Irish-bred Thoroughbred gelding ridden by Patrick Mullins, broke his back after falling over fence six (known as Becher's Brook and the most challenging fence on the track) on the course and also died at the scene.
The BBC reports that a four- to five-inch reduction in the drop on the landing side of Becher's Brook will be made, and fence four will be reduced in height by two inches to 4 feet, 10 inches. A statistical review carried out post-race found that these two fences were the most challenging for horses to clear, the report noted.
Additionally, the drop on the landing side of the first fence will be reduced, and the course's "toe boards" will increase in height. This should make it easier for horses to judge take-off locations, the report said.
The BBC report also stated that the British Horseracing Authority will complete a review of this year's race that is slated to be published in October. The report will contain information regarding the consideration of a "post-race wash down for horses" and "shortening or removing the pre-race parade in the event of unseasonably warm weather" to reduce the stress on the horses' bodies.
Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.