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RACING: Henrietta Knight calls for reduced field in Grand National
HENRIETTA Knight has called for a reduction in the John Smith’s Grand National field in the wake of Saturday’s dramatic race.
Knight sent out Calgary Bay from her West Lockinge stables, near Wantage, to finish 14th of the 15 finishers in the Aintree marathon won by Neptune Collonges.
However, the race was marred by the deaths of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised and According To Pete.
She said: “I think now they have modified the fences they go faster than ever.
“I think there are too many runners. I would like to see 30 runners rather than 40.
“Forty is a lot of horses when you are trying to run them, and everyone wants a good start, and they get very revved up.”
Knight felt the fatalities were onl highlighted because of the massive media coverage the race receives.
“People forget that three horses were killed in Dubai (on the Flat at the World Cup meeting) - no-one mentions that,” she added.
Meanwhile, she reported Calgary Bay to be “perfect” following his run, but felt Dominic Elsworth’s mount hadn’t been helped by Aintree’s decision to water the ground.
“He ran very well, and he jumped beautifully,” she said. “Just some of the soft patches caught him out on the ground and he got tired.
“I don’t think he stayed the trip on that ground. Maybe if they had not watered it and it had not rained as well he may have stayed. I couldn’t understand why they watered, but that is another matter.
“Maybe he could go back to a shorter trip in the Topham. I would love to have him jump those fences again.
“He was going really well at halfway until after Becher’s second time and he just started to feel it a bit then.
“Everything was going right – he just ran out of steam.”
She didn’t rule out a third crack at the National with her charge, but said that the watering policy would have to change.
“If they are always going to water there is no point because he doesn’t like soft ground,” she added.
Elsworth commented: “He just got a bit tired. I suffered a bit of interference from loose horses, but otherwise it was fine.”