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The years the Grand National never happened

In over 170 years of Grand National history, the race has been declared void by the Jockey Club only once.

In 1993, an estimated 300 million people were watching the race either at Aintree itself or on live television. Over £75 million had been placed in bets.

There was confusion with anti-race protestors at the first fence on the track before the race which didn't help matters. But much worse was to come. After an initial false start, there was a second, but the recall flag was not waved.

Sadly, just nine of the 39 riders understood it was a false start, and the others set off without realising.

Eleven riders completed the first circuit before pulling up as they became aware of the mistake. But seven riders completed the race, ignoring the shouts of the crowd and the officials waving flags to get them to stop.

Apparently some of the jockeys had mistaken the officials as another group of protestors causing further disruption. Trained by Jenny Pitman and ridden by John White, Esha Ness was the first horse to finish the National that never was.

Just a few years later in 1997, a suspected IRA bomb threat meant that the Grand National had to be postponed for two days. Two warnings with recognised IRA code-words were received before the jockeys had mounted. The bomb warning led to the largest ever evacuation of a sporting event as 60,000 people were evacuated from Aintree and 100 horses had to be left unattended for four hours.

Suny Bay's stable lad, Phil Sharp, initially left with the mass evacuation, but came back to water and care for the horses until they were retrieved later. Police carried out two controlled explosions at Aintree that day. The 1997 Grand National was re-run on 7 April, with jockey Tony Dobbin winning by an emphatic 25 lengths on Lord Gyllene.

Fortunately, these are the only two unscheduled blips in Grand National racing history. Otherwise the race has run year after year since 1839, even continuing through World War One, with three races taking place at Gatwick Racecourse, an old course that has since become part of Gatwick Airport - though during the second world war, the Grand National was officially suspended from 1941-45.

The draw of the Grand National is it's inherent unpredictability, one never knows exactly what will be instore for the next one.

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