In jump racing, much more so than flat racing, there are countless occasions of when a horse has dismounted their rider. Sometimes it is because the horse has fallen at a fence, taking the jockey down with them. Other times, the horse has simply refused a jump and the jockey has come off as a result of the sudden stop, leaving the horse without a rider. It is not unheard of for those horses to carry on running around the course without their jockey, jumping the jumps and actually interfering with the other horses still in the race.
Sometimes, though, the horse doesn’t really go anywhere or the jockey is able to grab hold of the reigns before their mount decides to wander off. In the past, jockeys were allowed to get back onto their horse and attempt to complete the race, but a decision was taken in 2009 to ban the practice. The thought was that injured horses could be made to carry on riding after a fall, doing themselves further damage, and so it was in the interests of everyone for a blanket ban on remounting to be introduced, which has remained in place since.
What The Rules Say
On the second of November 2009, the British Horseracing Authority introduced a rule that banned the practice of getting back on a horse if it had fallen after the start of a race. The ban did not apply to horses that unseated their riders either on the way to the start of a race or else at the starting line, provided neither part had sustained an injury. Instead, it was in place for the moments after races had got underway and was brought in in order to protect both the horses and the riders themselves, bringing the rules in line for after races.
Before the rule was brought in, a jockey would need to be given clearance to take part in future races on the day by a medical officer at the course. At the same time, they were allowed to remount the fallen horse without any of the same checks carried out before they resumed racing. This was seen as ‘perverse’ by some, leading to the change being brought in in order to ensure that jockeys and horses could do themselves no further damage by riding on for the rest of the race, allowing medical officers and vets to check both over.
Indeed, the jockeys aren’t even allowed to remount their horses to take them back to the unsaddling enclosure, unless they’re given specific permission by vets to do so. There were numerous different aspects to the rule change, including the fact that races could end up with no horses finishing them, resulting in them being declared void. It also stopped remarkable things happening, such as Tony McCoy’s victory at Southwell in 2002, but we’ll tell you more about both of these things later on in the piece. The most important thing to note is that remounting is no longer allowed.
The Kauto Star Incident
For many, including bettors, the question arose about why it was that the British Horseracing Authority refused to allow jockeys to remount a horse after it had fallen. For their part, the BHA pointed to the case of Kauto Star in January of 2005, who started as the ante-post favourite for the Arkle Trophy at Exeter. The novice chaser fell at the second-to-last fence when 12 lengths clear, but his jockey remounted him and sent him after the leader.
In the end, he lost by a head, but subsequent investigations discovered that he had fractured one of his legs in the fall. That problem was exacerbated by him being ridden after the remount, meaning that he had to miss out on nine months of racing as he recovered. At the time, the BHA ruled that riders needed to satisfy themselves as to the fitness of their mount before remounting them, resulting in a reduction of remounting incidents from about 30 to around eight per year. Even so, it was felt that jockeys weren’t sufficiently well-trained to make a sensible call about a horse’s fitness to carry on.
What Happened Next
Amongst the numerous reasons for the decision to be ban remounts was what happened at Southwell in 2002. Tony McCoy was riding on the back of Family Business in a steeplechase at the course, going up against six other riders. Family Business was the 8/11 favourite for the race but unseated McCoy at the tenth fence when he fell. McCoy was given a lift back towards the weighing room in a Land Rover, keeping an eye on the rest of the runners as he went. As he got back, Family Business was caught and McCoy decided to remount him.
As horse after horse still in the race began to either refuse, fall or unseat their rider, McCoy headed back to the tenth of the 19 fences in the race and jumped it again, this time successfully. He took the rest of the course slowly but steadily, allowing him to finish at the winner more than four minutes later than the event usually took to run. One clever punter had placed an In-Play bet to take advantage of the 1,000/1 offer from Betfair for Family Business to win after his fall, but most other people were unimpressed at the outcome.
Thankfully, neither Family Business nor McCoy had suffered any form of injury from their fall, but that didn’t stop the BHA from banning the practice of remounting seven years later. The first time that it really came to make a difference was in 2011, when the 4.25pm race at Towcester ended up with no winner. There were only four horses taking part in the race, with both Cengiz and Khukov unseating their riders at the same fence. That left Identity Parade about four lengths clear of Radharc Na Mara with only the final fence to jump.
Unfortunately for jockey Arian Lane, Identity Parade was distracted at the fence and initially refused, sending Lane flying. The horse still made the jump but both fell on the other side of it, which then distracted Radharc Na Mara as she too attempted the jump. She unseated her rider, Peter Toole, meaning that none of the horses were able to finish the race thanks to the new rules around remounting horses. It went down in history as the first race in recorded history to have no winner, with all bets being made void as a result.