Racing: Starter silent on report he stalled pre-National call for change

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The Independent Online
CAPTAIN Keith Brown, the Grand National starter, has declined to comment on a claim that he vetoed a review of starting procedures a month before the race was reduced to a farce as a result of two false starts.

A report in The Sporting Life yesterday said that Rod Fabricius, Aintree's acting clerk of the course, was worried about the 'grey gate' starting system - where a tape is raised by gates each side of the course - and voiced his concerns to Brown.

In the National, Brown twice declared false starts after horses became entangled in the tape.

According to the report, Aintree officials felt that the system was 'asking for trouble' when starting a 40-runner field. It claims that Fabricius raised these anxieties with Brown by telephone and letter, but the starter was adamant that the 'grey gate' was his preferred system.

A Jockey Club inquiry, chaired by High Court judge Sir Michael Connell, is investigating the fiasco. Brown, officiating at Sandown yesterday, said: 'Until the inquiry is over I can say nothing.' David Pipe, Jockey Club spokesman, and Fabricius would not comment on the report.