“We’ve just had similar conditions at Cheltenham where six horses died, so understandably we have worries.”The latest going report today had the Grand National course as soft and heavy on the Canal Turn fence. Only two Grand Nationals since 2001 have been run on going any slower than good-to-soft but with some rain likely in the last 24 hours leading up to the race, the ground seems likely to be soft. As a result, the betting could change significantly as punters latch on to runners with low weights and proven form on heavy ground.Aintree’s clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch told the Guardian: “We were due a couple of millimetres on Monday night and a couple more early morning, but unfortunately we got a lot more than that. The Grand National course is feared to be one of the wettest since 2001 when just four out of 40 horses finished, prompting calls from an animal welfare campaigner to cancel the race.Leading up to tomorrow’s race the field has been “heavy in places” and was yesterday expected to remain soft after excessive rain fell in the days leading up to the event. The conditions have prompted concerns from an animal welfare campaigner after Lilbutluso had to be put down on Thursday after racing on the course, where the ground was reported as soft. Horses will be required to exert much more stamina and therefore endurance on soft ground – a particular problem at the Grand National which is more than four miles and includes 30 fences.Horse racing consultant from Animal Aid Dene Stansall said: “If it wasn’t the Grand National and conditions were bad and there was the same level of risk, the race wouldn’t go ahead – but there’s too much money involved. The ground for the infamous 2001 Grand National was extremely heavy. Although just four out of 40 of the competing horses finished, remarkably no horse or rider was injured. The race was the second to be run on heavy ground in a four-year period, following Earth Summit’s win in 1998 when six of 37 starters completed, including one that had been remounted.Despite the conditions expected tomorrow, Gold Present was the only horse withdrawn from the race at the final 48-hour declaration.The Grand National takes place tomorrow at 5:15pm. Bookmakers have the odds stacked at 10-1 for favourite Anibale Fly, closely followed by Tiger Roll, Total Recall and Blaklion.CLARIFICATION: This article, now amended, originally stated that Animal Aid is a charity. Although its campaigning arm is a registered charity, Animal Aid itself is a not-for-profit limited company. Moreover, the British Horseracing Authority has stated that statistics do not support the claim that soft or heavy ground is more likely to cause injury or death to horses. We are happy to put its position. Only two Grand Nationals since 2001 have been run on going any slower than good-to-soft Credit: ANDREW YATES/ REUTERS Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The ground for the infamous 2001 Grand National was extremely heavyCredit:David Davies/PA “It’s time to put the horse first rather than economics if we don’t want to see dead horses.“This is historically the most dangerous horse race in the world and if the owners really loved and cared for their horses they wouldn’t make them race.” The latest going report today had the Grand National course as soft and heavy on the Canal Turn fenceCredit: Peter Byrne/ PA “But having said that, temperatures haven’t really got up much. It feels more like autumn than spring, it’s significantly colder than yesterday and, if it had just gone up a couple of degrees with a bit of sunshine, that would have helped. But that’s Mother Nature for you.”According to Mr Stansall, soft or heavy ground means competing horses have to jump as much as six additional inches in places, which, coupled with the length of the race and the number of horses involved, creates a “perfect storm” and “a recipe for injury or death.”He added: “I think it’s time that jockeys use their common sense and don’t push the horses so much if conditions are clearly dangerous, don’t whip a clearly tired horse, especially if the ground is going to be heavy or soft.
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