By Simon Jackson.
A stewards’ enquiry relating to the start of the Grand National has been adjourned to the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) headquarters in London after 39 jockeys refused to fully participate.
The enquiry was held at Aintree on Saturday to see if the riders had lined up before they were invited to do so by the starter – which led to a false start – and whether they subsequently disobeyed the starter’s instructions at the beginning of the race.
But the matter has now been referred to the BHA’s base in High Holborn as it was not able to be concluded due to the refusal of the 39 jockeys involved to return to the stewards’ room to hear the outcome of the enquiry.
“The jockeys were very unhappy with the conduct of the inquiry and they therefore refused to go back in,” Professional Jockey’s Association chief executive, Paul Struthers, said: “It is obviously a shame but I’m not sure it would be fair for people to put this solely at the jockeys’ door.”
The only one of the 40 jockeys in the Grand National field who is not involved is Brendan Powell, whose mount Battle Group refused to start in the race won by 25/1 shot Pineau De Re and jockey Leighton Aspell who described the victory was a “dream come true.”
The 37-year-old had in 2003 finished second in the National on Supreme Glory before retiring from race-riding four years later. He returned to the saddle in 2009 and Saturday’s victory continued his tremendous form this season that has seen him bag a career best 61 winners.
“The feeling is just of elation when you cross the line,” said Aspell after the Dr Richard Newland-trained 11-year-old had prevailed from London24’s place tips Balthazar King (14-1) and Double Seven (10-1).
“At my age, I won’t have many more chances to win! Every year, you share winning the National with your friends but obviously you want to do it yourself. It’s a dream come true.
“You keep going through a combination of tiredness and adrenalin now. I was trying to save as much as I could but he is such a little terrier he kept swinging back into the bridle. I was very conscious about being out in front. It’s four miles and nearly four furlongs and there’s no other race in the calendar that long.
“I knew we were in with a chance jumping Valentine’s second time round. You’re never certain of winning, even when you reach the Elbow, but I knew we’d have to tie up badly to be caught at that point. We didn’t have a lot left to be honest but you wouldn’t at the end of this sort of trip.
“It’s a wonderful day. This is what we do it for. I remember watching the National as a very young boy and, as much as you enjoy sharing in everybody’s success, you seek and crave a bit too. It’s great to get a chance.
“Even to get a ride in the National is a great thing but to get one with a live chance is even better.
“My family made the effort to come over yesterday on the train and we had a night out last night. We are all here today to enjoy it too.”
Read Horse Talk with Simon Jackson each day at London24 for the latest horse racing news.