Jockeys ‘deeply unhappy’ at false start enquiry

Grand National day at Aintree ended in revolt as 39 of the 40 jockeys took the decision not to re-enter the stewards’ room for an enquiry into the false start that the delayed the beginning of the race and saw assistant starter Simon McNeill knocked down by a horse.

The one jockey not involved was Brendan Powell as his mount, Battle Group, refused to start. An initial enquiry took part directly after the race and was attended by most of the jockeys involved, with AP McCoy acting as their spokesman. However, when the enquiry was reconvened after the final race the jockeys refused to participate.

As a consequence, the entire incident has now been referred for a full hearing at British Horseracing Authority (BHA) headquarters in London, at which the 39 riders may face further punishment for refusing to participate in the enquiry.

Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) chief executive Paul Struthers said the jockeys “were deeply unhappy with the conduct of the enquiry and therefore, to a man, weren’t willing to go back in.”

He added: “Only one of them would have needed to be present, but they all decided that they would not take part. Timewise, a number of the Irish jockeys were under pressure to catch ferries and flights, but that wasn’t the reason why they refused to go back in. They all agreed they just weren’t happy about the way in which matters were being conducted.”

Asked if the jockeys felt guilty for taking part in an event that now threatens to overshadow the victory of Pineau De Re, Struthers replied: “I think it would be unfair to lay the blame for that at the door of the jockeys. Yes, it is a shame that it has come at the end of three great days of racing, but they felt very strongly that matters were not being conducted correctly.”

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