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Grand National to reduce number of horses to 34 and soften fences in bid to make famous race safer

LONDON (AP) — The Grand National is implementing a series of significant changes that will take effect from next year in an effort to make the world’s most famous steeplechase safer for horses and jockeys. They include reducing the field from 40 horses to 34, softening the fences by using foam and rubber toe boards, and moving the first fence closer to the start to stop horses building up too much speed. The race will also start earlier in the day so the course stays as soft as possible and the horses will set off from a standing start. Sixteens horses have died in the Grand National since the turn of the century.

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