With this year’s Grand National just a few short weeks away, you will be reading many ‘best of’ and ‘greatest ever’ type lists. Of course, we have compiled our own versions of them and we look forward to you reading each one.
However, we are also going to look back at the Nationals that didn’t go to plan. The ones where everything wasn’t perfect, because although those races were flawed, they still contributed to what makes the National a race like no other – its history.
At the top of that list is the 1993 Grand National. It was a race like no other and here is why.
300 million viewers
Many predictions were made in the lead up to the race, yet we doubt too many of the estimated 300 million people who were watching the National around the world would have predicted what was going to happen.
Thirty of the 39 racers did not realise a false start was called. Many of them completed the course before the mistake was even noted.
The disastrous series of events that led to the problem was like something out of a Terry Pratchet novel. It all started when protesters got onto the track near fence one – officials spotted them and asked the jockeys to line up for a restart.
Then two more false starts were caused by horses getting tangled in tape. Then after the last false start, the recall flag which tells jockeys to return to the start was never waved and all rides took off apart from nine of them.
Normally, a trip to the racetrack involves shouting for your horse to finish first. This time around, the punters were shouting for their horse to stop riding and return to the start. Officials and race-goers frantically tried to notify the rides, but it didn’t work with all of them.
Seven riders finished the four and a half mile race without issue. John White thought he had ridden a 50-1 winner in Esha Ness, after being the first ride to cross the line. On the day, he told reporters: “I could see there were only a few horses around, but I thought the others had fallen or something.”
Disaster for bookmakers
It ended up being a bad day for the bookies too, as the Jockey Club declared the race void due to obvious reasons. The race wasn’t re-run, so the bookies had to repay a serious amount of cash that was placed on the race.
Since that faithful race on the third day of April in 1993, that year’s Grand National has been known as “the race that never was.”
It is not the Grand National’s proudest moment, but it is part of its history and it is its history that makes it such a special day on the racing calendar.