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1993: Grand National ends in 'shambles'
The Grand National has ended in chaos after a series of events at the start which reduced the world-famous horse race to a shambles.

An estimated 300 million people around the world were watching the race, held at the Aintree racecourse in Liverpool, live on television, when 30 of the 39 riders failed to realise a false start had been called and set off around the racetrack.

The Jockey Club was forced to declare the race void after several riders completed both laps of the gruelling 30-obstacle course and passed the finish line before they realised their mistake.

Aintree has said it is unlikely the race will be re-run, and bookmakers are faced with repaying the 75 million in bets placed on the race.

False starts

The disastrous sequence of events began seconds before the race was due to start, when protestors got onto the track near the first fence.

They were spotted, and after a delay, the race officials asked horses and riders to line up again.

Then there were two false starts caused by horses getting tangled up with the starting tape. On the second false start, the recall flag, which signals riders to pull up once they have started, was not waved, and all but nine riders raced away.

The recall man, Ken Evans, is being interviewed by stewards to find out why he did not wave his flag.

Frantic shouting

The crowd shouted frantically at the jockeys to get them to stop, and officials tried desperately to flag them down from the side of the track, but without success.

In the end, 11 riders had completed the first circuit before pulling up, and seven never realised anything was wrong, racing right to the finish line in the four-and-a-half-mile (7 km) race.

Esha Ness, a 50-1 outsider trained by Jenny Pitman and ridden by John White, crossed the line first. "I could see there were only a few horses around, but I thought the others had fallen or something," White said after the race.

Mrs Pitman, who became the first woman to train a first Grand National winner in 1983 with Corbiere, was devastated.

"This is no Grand National, even though I have won it," she said.

The owner of Esha Ness, Patrick Bancroft, is understood to be considering suing Aintree over the 76,000 prize money for first place.

David Pipe, spokesman for The Jockey Club, said there would be an urgent inquiry into the incident.

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Watch/Listen
Horses racing in the 1993 Grand National
Horses and their jockeys continued racing despite frantic attempts to stop them

Scenes from 'race' and reaction at Aintree



In Context
Doubts over the competence of the recall man, Ken Evans, were quickly dispelled.

Recordings of the race showed that Keith Brown, the starter, raised the red flag which was to give him the signal that a false start had been declared - but crucially, did not unfurl it, making it almost impossible to spot.

Ironically, those horses which completed the course did so in the second-fastest time in the race's history.

The only other time the race has failed to run since it began in 1839 was during the Second World War, from 1941-45, although it was postponed in 1997 after a suspected IRA bomb warning.

Trainer Jenny Pitman went on to win the Grand National again in 1995, with Royal Athlete. She was awarded the OBE in 1998 and retired from racing in 1999.

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