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  Sunday, 8 April, 2001, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Racing defends Grand National
It was not the easiest time for the National jockeys
It was not the easiest time for the National jockeys
Racing has leapt to the defence of the Martell Grand National in the wake of criticism that it should not have been run.

Just four horses finished the race - and two of those remounted - as the atrocious conditions took their toll.

But trainers and jockeys alike have rejected press suggestions that the race should not have been run, even though heavy rain made the ground very testing.


It was the loose horses which caused the mayhem
Peter Scudamore

Ted Walsh, trainer of 2000 winner Papillon who was remounted to finish fourth, said: "They definitely should have raced.

"It was only heavy ground - there was nothing wrong with it.

"It is a lot safer on that ground as they go slower and horses don't get hurt when they fall. On fast ground horses get killed and jockeys get hurt."

Former champion jump jockey Peter Scudamore said: "Why shouldn't they have raced? In different conditions horses would still have fallen.

"Some horses go in that ground, it is the nature of the sport - it is an outdoor sport. It was the loose horses which caused the mayhem."

Charlie Mann, trainer of leading fancy Moral Support who was stopped in the melee at the Canal Turn, said: "They should have raced.

"If there hadn't been the incident at the Canal Turn a few more would have got round. I walked the course before racing and it wasn't too bad."

Red Marauder
Red Marauder claimed an unlikely win
Ferdy Murphy, trainer of Paddy's Return who caused the mayhem at the Canal Turn, said: "I think they were right to race.

"If Paddy's Return hadn't caused havoc at the Canal Turn there would probably have been 25 horses pasing the stands - it was one of those things and it was nothing to do with the ground.

"I think the jockeys need complementing on the way they rode in the conditions."

Martin Pipe, who saddled no fewer than 10 of the 40 runners in Saturday's race, said: "Everybody got home safe and sound and it was a very exciting race, I've no doubts that it was right to go ahead.

"The National is always an exciting race and this year's was no exception, everybody loves to have a horse that's good enough to compete."

Ginger McCain, trainer of Aintree legend Red Rum, said organisers needed to look at ways of preventing loose horses from causing trouble in future.


I wonder whether we need to be looking at ways in which we can get the loose horses off the course
Ginger McCain

"I know what some people are saying but it was a magical National," he said.

"The jockeys that finished the race were tickled pink, they were laughing like they'd won the pools.

"I don't know the course inside out but I wonder whether we need to be looking at ways in which we can get the loose horses off the course."

Meanwhile, the Jockey Club are set to compile a report of the Grand National meeting before suggesting what, if any, changes should be made in light of Saturday's events.

But John Maxse, the Jockey Club's public relations officer, was keen to stress that the report was part of routine procedure.

"The report is compiled by the Racecourse Services department of the Jockey Club, headed by the chief veterinary advisor and the course inspectors," he said.

"We will then work with Aintree and discuss how things go from there.


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