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Fans pray for clean Grand National

London (Reuters): Ten years on from the great Grand National fiasco of 1993, trainers, bookies and racing fans are trying to forget the past and keep their fingers crossed that this year's race will get off to a clean start on Saturday.

A decade ago the world's greatest steeplechase collapsed in chaos after two false starts and an animal rights protest, causing severe embarrassment to British racing. Not only fans were disappointed -- bookmakers had to return tens of millions of pounds (dollars) in bets after the race was declared void and the government lost an estimated six million pounds in betting taxes.

The confusion began when animal rights protestors ran on to the course just as the race was due to start, delaying it by seven minutes. When veteran starter Keith Brown finally gave the order to begin, the tape marking the start line did not rise fast enough and some horses ran into it. A false start was declared and all the jockeys obeyed the recall but the second start was to prove a disaster. Once again a number of horses became entangled in the slow-rising tape but this time 30 of a 39-strong field ignored the order to return, possibly because it was not clearly given, and raced a full circuit of the famous Liverpool course.


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