Wednesday 23 October 2019

Win stokes memories of the race that never was

WHEN DARYL JACOB crossed the line on Neptune Collonges at Aintree on Saturday, the whole county celebrated as he became the first Wexford-born jockey to win the Grand National.

However, those who can remember back to 1993 will recall another Wexford man who came close in what has been immortally dubbed 'the race that never was'.

John White managed to cross the line first riding Esha Ness, however the race result was declared void due to a false start.

The 1993 Grand National was marred with problems from the very beginning. Firstly animal rights protesters invaded the course near the first fence. A first false start was declared when several riders got tangled up in the starting tape. At the second attempt the starting tape once again became tangled, this time around the neck of jockey Richard Dunwoody, and again a false start was declared. However this time, the red flag did not unfurl and as a result, 30 of the 39 riders set off around the track oblivious to the call.

More than half of the riders realised that the race was declared a false star before the second circuit, with 14 riders continuing on.

John White crossed the line believing he was the first Wexford Jockey to win the Grand National.

He had no idea until he was told afterwards that there was a problem. He had noticed that there were fewer horses, but he assumed that the others had fallen. Whilst a lot of fingers were pointed at starter Keith Brown, John doesn't put any blame on anybody in particular for what many call, 'the biggest mishap in British sporting history'.

'The starter can only do what he can with the equipment he has.' John said, 'But I will say, if you look at it, where was the flag? It was rolled up tight in his hand. It would have been hard for anyone to see it.'

Nearly 20 years on from the calamitous episode, John still believes that there should be some change in the way that races are started.

He said: 'I think the equipment is very poor. Surely there's a better way than having three men holding fortyodd horses back with a piece of tape? It's ridiculous!'

John praised fellow Wexford man Daryl Jacob following his victory in this years race, but, knowing better than most just how cruel the Grand National can be, he was also quick to empathise with Richie Mclernon on Sunnyhillboy who missed out by a nose.

'Daryl had a great ride. He jumped well and did everything right. But then again the other jockey (Mclernon) didn't do much wrong either did he? He may never come that close again. It goes to show it's the luck of the draw really.'

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