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Becher's Brook Still In RSPCA Sights
England's RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant praised the changes made to the Grand National as "a big step forward for horse welfare" when speaking in the build up to the race, reports guardian.co.uk. With regards to Becher's Brook, the famous fence at Aintree, Grant stated: "I said last year that Becher's is on a yellow card and, if we see repetition of the problems that we have had there before, then that will be a second yellow card and it will be time for Becher's to go. I want to pay tribute to Aintree and the British Horseracing Authority because they have acted on the vast majority of the concerns we expressed following last year's race." Some of the changes made include the cores of all National fences have been softened, the moving of the start to a place further from the grandstands, the track's new capacity to water the entire course to avoid fast ground and the increase in numbers of horse-catchers and run-off areas where loose horses can be corralled. In addition, Aintree has granted permission for a display about the RSPCA's work to be mounted during the three-day National meeting and that a large number of the charity's equine specialists would be placed around the course during the race itself. In response, Robin Mounsey of the BHA, said that there was "general acknowledgment that the Grand National course is wide enough to accommodate the current number of runners" and that the quality of entries is as high as ever. Of Becher's Brook he said that "neither of the incidents which led to the unfortunate fatalities [last year] were foreseeable or directly attributable to the nature of Becher's Brook as a fence" and that the fence had since been jumped without incident in other races.