Becher's Brook (above), the spot most likely to separate the men from the horses, was as busy as ever last week during the 114th running of England's Grand National at Aintree. But though seven jockeys spilled at the devilish brush-and-water obstacle, the race over-all won the applause of its traditional critics, The League Against Cruel Sports. There was perhaps a reason: with all England watching the Grand National for the first time on TV, one of the race stewards, the Earl of Sefton, no less, had bidden jockeys not to crowd and to use utmost discretion on the jumps. "There was a definite slowing down of the race," rejoiced The League Against Cruel Sports.

The slowdown, if any, did not hinder favored Merryman II, who won the four-mile-plus race in 9:26 1/5, less than six seconds over the record.

Merryman II (one of eight to finish out of 26 starters) had his troubles too at Becher's. "When we went over the first time, we were eighth," said Jockey Gerry Scott. "On the second time over we were third, and when Merryman came down I thought he would fall. But his head came up and I brought him all the way in."