Jefferson: I support National
Malcolm Jefferson has spoken in defence of the Grand National after paying tribute to According To Pete, who died at Aintree on Saturday.
The winner of nearly £250,000 in prize money and a feature at the yard for seven years, Malton-based Jefferson had forged a strong bond with Peter Nelson's home-bred.
On the back of his best-ever year as a trainer with two winners at Cheltenham and the same two horses following up on Merseyside, Jefferson found the loss hard to take.
However, he remains a supporter of the National and feels it is time to stop tinkering with the conditions of the race.
"He was one of my favourites so it's hit me very hard," said Jefferson.
"As a trainer, and it's the same for anyone in racing, you don't go to the races expecting to lose your horse.
"All owners love their horses, especially Peter. Everyone seemed to know about According To Pete, too, he had that big white face and he loved his racing. Tina Pearson, his lass, is devastated.
"It was just a freak accident. He was loving it, jumping for fun - I always thought he would. If he'd just been brought down and got back up again we'd be taking him back next year, but he broke his shoulder unfortunately.
"You can't do anything about it, it's just a freak accident that could have happened anywhere but because it was the National everyone saw it.
"They can't carry on making changes. In my eyes the fences should be bigger to slow them down. If they were a foot higher Pete would still have jumped them.
"Now they are trying to please everybody and you can't. People say make the field smaller, but what if next year another two die? Then they'll want 20 runners.
"Watering to ensure softer ground might help. There was a lot of carry on after last year's race, and I just wish they'd stop trying to please everyone because you can't.
"The National is a great race and the only reason you get such a reaction is because so many people watch it.
"If I have a suitable horse next year I'll enter him. You've got to support the race, it's our biggest day of the year.
"The last month just sums up racing. I had two winners at Cheltenham, the same two horses followed up at Aintree, which had never been done before, and then I lose a horse in the National."