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Complications - 1 of 6
Occasionally there is a false start to a race. This is more common in jump racing and it usually happens when a horse is keen and it charges through the tape before the starter is happy the horses are in line. In flat racing false starts are less common because of the starting stalls. What does sometimes happen is all the starting stall gates fail to open at the same time, this is more common in races with large fields when two or more sets of starting stalls are joined together.
If a false start is declared the starter will shout “false start” and will wave a yellow flag. A couple of hundred yards down the track is the recall marshal who, upon seeing the starter wave their flag, will wave their large yellow flag which, in theory the jockeys will see, pull up their horses and return to the start.
It’s a reality in jump racing that horses do sometimes fall and either they or the jockey are injured. More often than not they are quickly on their feet with no harm done. Occasionally however there are injuries that need to be treated and if the runners and riders are scheduled to jump the obstacle again then the injured horse or jockey is at risk of further injury. Until a few years ago only part of the fence was dolled off so the remaining runners jumped part of the fence away from the stricken horse or jockey but this was dangerous, if the jump had to be omitted then the race was declared void. Nowadays common sense prevails and if there is a horse or jockey being treated then the jump is omitted completely and the race result will still stand.
There are other reasons for fences being omitted, all on safety grounds. The common ones being if the ground on the landing side is slippery or if the sun is low and restricting visibility on the approach to the jump.