Letter: Statistical odds that combined to cause the grand fiasco at Aintree

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The Independent Online
Sir: I watched the making of history this afternoon when the Grand National race was declared void with a further decision not to rerun it at a later date during the year.

It appears unfair to take this decision when the cause of the problem rests entirely with the archaic starter system. Marcus Armytage, Travel Over's jockey, said there were very poor flag signals and that, in the case of the second false start, the only visible flag signal was given from behind the already racing horses.

Rod Fabricius, acting clerk of the course, supported this when he said that although a second signal further up the course had been given and from the right position, the flag itself had not been shown to the jockeys. Peter Scudamore, Captain Dibble's jockey, said he had seen this kind of mistake happen three times this season.

It seems there is no excuse for the starter system not to have been overhauled and upgraded before now. The owners, trainers, jockeys, horses and punters should not be punished because of a failure that had nothing whatsoever to do with them.

The only fair course of action seems to be to hold the Grand National later in the year when horses such as Travel Over, whose legs were injured when the tape wrapped around them, have had time to recover and regain their fitness, and to hope that such a recovery will happen in the case of all those horses which took part.

Perhaps, though, this is an indication that it is time to rethink the running of the Grand National altogether?

Yours sincerely,

PAT HARRIS

Twyford, Hampshire

3 April

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