Grand National fences to be made safer for this year's race

Grand National fences to be made safer for this year's race

In a bids to make t this year's Grand National safer, fences will be now made with a material know as 'plastic birch' instead of  the traditional wooden posts, but they will still have the same appearance as they will still be covered in spruce.

Aintree racecourse manager Andrew Tulloch described the birch as "horse friendly", telling Sky News "safety at Aintree is always our top priority for riders and horses and it's something we do not stand still on".

"The big change here is that traditionally where they had a timber frame to them that timber frame has been replaced by a plastic, more forgiving, birch and on top of that birch there's a minimum of fourteen, maybe even sixteen inches of spruce and the spruce is what the horses can knock off," he said.

Other safety measures being introduced this year include levelling of the landing zone for four of the trickiest jumps, including Becher's Brook.

The start has also been moved by 90ft, away from the crowds and the grandstands to prevent horses from becoming too excitable ahead of the race.

There will be a larger "no-go" zone, the position of the starter's rostrum will be moved and more visible start tape will be used to reduce the potential for horses to get on top of the starting tape prematurely.

Jamie Stier, director of raceday operations and regulation for the British Horseracing Authority, said: "Our objective in recommending changes to the start is to identify ways in which we can create a calmer and more controlled environment for both horse and rider.

"We recognise that there is pressure and tension before the race and we want to alleviate that where possible." said Andrew Tulloch.