It is negotiated twice during the race - as the sixth fence, and the twenty-second fence.
The fence took its name from Captain Becher, who fell there from his mount Conrad in the first Aintree Grand National in 1839, and who sheltered in the small brook running along the landing side of the fence while the remainder of the field thundered over.
It has always been a notorious and controversial obstacle during this most severe of sporting events. Following the deaths of two horses, Brown Trix and Seeandem, at the fence during the 1989 Grand National won by Little Polveir, the course executive bowed to pressure from animal rights groups and levelled off a tricky backward slope on the landing side of the fence to remove a hidden trap that had caused many horses to fall. At the same time they also removed the water from the brook as there was a risk that a fallen horse could drown.
Many traditionalists have seen the levelling off of the landing side as a reactionary change and one that detracted from the race. In addition, the angle of the fence on take off was also changed so horses on the inside and on the outer rise at a similar time.
- ↑ G.M. Miller, BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names (Oxford UP, 1971), p. 12.