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Last Updated:  Thursday, 3 April, 2003, 07:15 GMT 08:15 UK
The National that never was
John White (left) after realising his
White (left) soon realised he would not be celebrating
The 1993 Grand National is one of the most memorable in the race's history but is one that Aintree officials would be happier to forget.

A fiasco involving the starting tape led to a false start being called but most of the field were oblivious and carried on.

Esha Ness, trained by Jenny Pitman, crossed the line first only for jockey John White to then realise that his moment of Grand National glory had come in a void race.

"It's a funny feeling - sickening, in fact," White told BBC Five Live 10 years on.

"You think you have won the National and then it is taken away from you.

"On top of that, I was upset because we'd just gone 4 miles and the horse had jumped really well.

"Perhaps what sickened me more than anything else was that I knew I wouldn't get many more cracks at the National."

Demonstrators at the first fence had caused a slight delay to the race but the main problems were caused by the starting tape.

The starter set the race in motion but on a wet and blustery day, the tape managed to get caught around one of the horses and the horses were recalled.

This time, some of the horses were too near the tape when it went up and it wrapped around Richard Dunwoody on Won't Be Gone Long.

If I'd have known it was void, I'd have saved myself a lot of trouble
Esha Ness jockey John White

A false start was again called, but too late for most of the field to realise.

"It was hard to see. There were always a lot of people around the start and around the sides when you jump off," remembered White, who is now a trainer in Ireland.

"There had been a couple of false starts but you're in behind a lot of horses and looking straight in front of you and then bang, you're off and the sole thing in your mind is trying to win.

"When you jump off and go down towards the first fence, it's a fair old gallop."

The advance flagman, who stands 100 yards down the course, said he had waved his flag but the jockeys did not see him.

"I didn't see a man with a red flag. If you saw things like that, you'd pull up," said White.

"I thought the race was on and you try to do the best you can to win the race."

Nine horses did pull up before the first fence but the rest of the field charged on.

Esha Ness (right) was the first of the seven finishers to cross the line
Esha Ness (right) was the first of the seven finishers to cross the line

Aintree officials tried to attract the attention of the competitors as they reached The Chair fence but the jockeys mistook them for protesters.

Ten runners stopped after the first circuit but the rest of the field carried on and seven horses eventually finished.

"The first I knew of it being a void race was when Dean Gallagher told me when I went past the post," said White.

"In the weighing room, it was chaos with no-one sure what was happening.

"I'm not sure who officially told me I hadn't won. I just got in the car and went home. It was a long journey."

Despite his hard luck, White maintains that he feels no bitterness about what happened.

"I wouldn't blame anyone," he said. "There are a lot of people to blame but it's history.

"At the end of the day, racing is something to do in the afternoons. There are more important things in life."

Links to more Grand National 2003 stories


Esha Ness jockey John White
"You think you have won the National and then it is taken away from you"

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