One For Arthur scooped £561,300 for winning the 2017 Grand National at Aintree last Saturday. This was the first year that ITV broadcast the race live and it was interesting to see their specific footage which was dedicated to horse welfare.
Over the years things have changed somewhat. It's nearly 25 years since animal rights protesters invaded the course prior to the race causing major confusion. In particular, the Grand National course is less gruelling and the fence heights have been adjusted.
Only three horses fell last Saturday. Cocktails At Dawn fell at the first fence - Nico de Boinville may have taken off too fast. The Young Master fell at Becher's Brook and Saphir Du Rheu fell at the 11th fence. Since 1970, this is the joint-second lowest amount of fallers for the race (only 2 horses fell in 2013).
Usually more than half of the entrants don’t reach the finishing post. While the proportion of non-finishers has remained relatively constant over the years, the reasons why horses don’t get around have changed.
This bears out in the data since 1970. The trends below reveals a pattern – fewer horses are falling and more are pulling up. A logic to explain this could be that those pulling up now, could have fallen in the past and would have struggled to get over the more taxing fences. There could be other factors too – perhaps jockey skill has improved or maybe they are taking less risks with horses.
Maybe this trend will put those concerned with horse welfare at ease. Also it might calm gamblers nerves - seeing your horse pull-up gives a sense of closure I suppose. If they fall however your always left with the ‘what if’…