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Nature. 2004 Mar 25;428(6981):385-6.

Equine welfare: risk of horses falling in the Grand National.

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Epidemiology Group, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Neston, Wirral CH64 7TE, UK.


As in other competitive sports, the famous Grand National steeplechase, which is held at Aintree in the United Kingdom and is watched by 600 million people worldwide, sometimes results in injury. By analysing data from the past 15 Grand National races (consisting of 560 starts by horses), we are able to identify several factors that are significantly associated with failure to complete the race: no previous experience of the course and its unique obstacles, unfavourable ground conditions (too soft or too hard), a large number of runners, and the length of the odds ('starting price'). We also find that there is an increased risk of falling at the first fence and at the jump known as Becher's Brook, which has a ditch on the landing side. Our findings indicate ways in which the Grand National could be made safer for horses and illustrate how epidemiological analysis might contribute to preventing injury in competitive sport.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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