What is a ‘recall man’?

As the name suggests, a ‘recall man’, or ‘advance flag operator’, is a racecourse official, trained and accredited by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), who signals a false start to jockeys positioned furthest from the starter. The recall man is equipped with a yellow recall flag, of specific dimensions, which he must raise when signalled to do so by the starter, a white overcoat and a whistle. He is stationed some way down the track, say, on the run to the first fence in a steeplechase and, if the starter signals a false start, wave his flag above his head and blow his whistle until the field pulls up.

Perhaps the most famous, or infamous, recall man in the history of British horse racing was Ken Evans, a part-time employee who was singled out, unfairly, by the Jockey Club for failing to stop what became known as the ‘Grand National that never was’ in 1993. Crucially, starter Keith Brown raised his flag to signal a second false start, but did not unfurl it, such that most of the jockeys, including ‘winning’ jockey John White, were unaware of any instruction to stop and set off around the racecourse.