Grand National 2014 results: Referral hearing date to be announced as jockeys boycott stewards meeting over start inquiry

A false start led to an assistant starter being knocked over but after attending an initial meeting, the 39 jockeys involved chose not to return to the hearing

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The Independent Online

It is likely to be a couple of days before a date is announced for the referral hearing into the start of the Crabbie's Grand National.

The hearing was passed on to the British Horseracing Authority after jockeys chose not to go back to see the stewards at Aintree after the initial inquiry had been adjourned while they considered the matter.

Officials had called an inquiry after the starter reported the riders had lined up despite being advised by the assistant starter, who was positioned in front of the field, that it was not yet race time and then proceeded towards the start.

The stewards report said that when the riders moved forward towards the start they knocked down the assistant starter, Simon McNeill, thereby compromising the welfare of an official.


After taking evidence from the riders and the starting team, the stewards adjourned the inquiry to consider the matter.

The report said that in attempting to reconvene the inquiry after the last race, the riders, who had not been given permission to leave the course, refused to attend.

"There has been no chance to arrange a date yet. I would think it would take a couple of days to arrange it," said BHA media manager Robin Mounsey.

"It's going to be slightly complicated because the jockeys will need to work out between them who's coming, how many of them are coming and when it is suitable for them who want to come to attend.

"From the jockeys end it might take a bit of time to get a suitable date. I'm sure we'll try and have a date within the next couple of days or something like that, but it's going to take a little bit of time.

"There is very little to add now before the inquiry is heard at High Holborn by the disciplinary panel.

"This process will allow all involved the opportunity to review the chain of events and consider all relevant factors, hopefully in a more constructive environment.

"The hearing will consider the start and what prompted the initial inquiry and also the events which unfolded during and after the stewards' inquiry."

Leighton Aspell, rider of winner Pineau De Re, told At The Races: "It's a very, very high pressure situation. Everybody is geed up, they've got their plans and their instructions and it's a very fine line.

"I promise you, we're talking fractions of a second away from it (the start) being absolutely perfect.

"I think the second time it was almost perfect again, but the tape caught one of the horses.

"No jockey wanted this to happen. We all got briefed and we all wanted to get off to a good start and get off well.

"It's very tight down there at the start, we're getting instructions left, right and centre and we're all doing our very best to get off to a good start.

"Unfortunately we had a couple of incidents at the start, the stewards had their say and we put our points across.

"It's going to be reffered to the BHA and hopefully it can get resolved as soon as possible."

Tom Scudamore rode The Package, and his father and former champion jockey Peter Scudamore told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme that the start had been a result of an "archaic" system and that the riders were unhappy at being handed two-day bans.

He said: "We're in 2014 and have not got a system that works.

"It's depressing. I don't blame the starters, the starters' assistants or the jockeys. We have an archaic system that is not fit for purpose."

On the riders not returning to hear the stewards' findings, Scudamore said: "There was confusion and the jockeys felt slightly aggrieved the inquiry was not held straight after the race.

"They did attend the first inquiry but were sent out because they did not have enough time to conclude it.

Several of the jockeys had to leave Aintree to catch flights to their next racing engagements and Scudamore said: "They were told that some could go because they had two-day suspensions anyway.

"The jockeys thought that, since it had been decided to ban them and their arguments had not been listened to, what was the point of going back in?"