27 Jan 1999 Pre-2014 Releases

Grand National Entry Review Panel

Published: 27 January 1999

The composition and objectives of the Jockey Club’s Grand National Entry Review Panel were confirmed today.

The setting up of an advisory panel to review entries on the basis of form and suitability for the race was one of the key recommendations of the Jockey Club’s report into the 1998 Martell Grand National.

The five person panel will be chaired by Chris Collins, supported by Dick Saunders and Tim Forster. The panel is completed by Phil Smith (Senior Jumps Handicapper) and Nigel Macfarlane (Secretary to the Disciplinary Committee).

The objective of the panel when reviewing Martell Grand National entries will be to look after the welfare of horses and safety of jockeys.

Chris Collins, chairman of the panel said: “All entries will be subject to an initial review. This will be based on performance in recent races, particularly where a horse has not completed the course. Subsequent form will also be monitored. The trainer of a horse giving cause for concern will be invited to express his or her views

“If following the second forfeit stage in March the panel concludes that an intended runner is not suitable, it will recommend to a quorum of Jockey Club Stewards that the entry in question is voided with the entry money returned.

“As was stated in the Jockey Club’s report, the Grand National is the ultimate test of horse and rider in National Hunt racing – a uniquely tough but fair race which is a part of Britain’s heritage. The extensive experience of my fellow panel members, coupled with the professional input from Phil Smith and Nigel Macfarlane, will ensure that no decisions are taken lightly or without a full understanding of the facts and what is required of a horse at Aintree.”

Notes for Editors:

1. The entries for the 1999 Martell Grand National closed today.
2. Chris Collins, Chairman of the Grand National Entry Review Panel, has been a Member of the Jockey Club since 1972. He rode both under Rules and as an international three day event rider, and finished 3rd in the 1965 Grand National. Dick Saunders, a Jockey Club Member since 1981, rode Grittar to victory in the 1982 Grand National. Tim Forster has held a training licence for nearly 40 years and trained the winners of three Grand Nationals, Well To Do, Ben Nevis and Last Suspect. Phil Smith recently succeeded Christopher Mordaunt as the BHB’s Senior Jumps Handicapper. Nigel Macfarlane has worked in the Jockey Club’s Disciplinary Department for 25 years.

3. The report into the 1998 Martell Grand National was compiled by the Jockey Club’s Racecourse Department to establish whether any single factor or combination of factors contributed to the three fatalities in the race. It concluded, after extensive consultation and examination of the facts, that the three fatalities were the result of unfortunate accidents. However, the report recommended that, in addition to the advisory panel, the following initiatives be implemented to further minimise the potential risk of fatalities and injuries in the race:

a) Any horse declared at the five day stage for the Grand National should automatically be withdrawn from the Grand National if it runs in any race after the five day declaration stage.
b) All horses declared to run in the Grand National should undergo a pre-race veterinary inspection because of the unique demands of the race.
c) Aintree style schooling fences be made available to trainers at the major training centres Lambourn, Middleham and Newmarket.
d) The BHB’s Race Planning Department carry out a review of the handicapping of the race with a view to encouraging more horses with higher ratings to run in the race.

4. The Jockey Club Stewards who will decide, on the basis of the findings of the Advisory Panel, whether a horse should be allowed to run in the Grand National or not are Robert Waley-Cohen, Gurney Sheppard and Joey Newton.

5. In the event of an entry being voided, the entry money will be returned to connections and, following consultation with the major bookmakers, all ante post bets on the horse should be refunded.