THE Grand National nightmare must have flashed across the mind of bowler-hatted Sha Tin starter Mike Tibbatts as he sent them on their way - well, most of them - in the final event on International Races Day. There was a roar from the crowd when it became apparent that Sky High had broken through the stalls just before the start and that Noble Dancer had not come out with the rest of the field. A potentially embarrassing situation with international guests from the four corners of the world with us. But Hongkong rules are distinctly different to those of England and punters backing these two horses got their money back. Tibbatts, called before the Stewards, spared time to explain to the press - unlike officials at Aintree recently - and said: ''I was committed to the start with my hand just down on the button when Sky High came through.'' And director of racing Philip Johnston would entertain no comparisons with the Grand national fiasco. ''No way. In fact, those who backed the two horses were well looked after. In other jurisdictions they would have lost their money.'' The refunds meant the day's final turnover tally did not quite make the $1 billion mark. THE large crowd on course yesterday prevented Darren Gauci's wife Karen placing a bet in the International Bowl. And she wasn't too happy about it. ''I was going to back the winner, Glen Kate. I've got a brother called Glen and a dog called Kate so what else could I be on?'' queried Karen. Obviously nothing, particularly as husband Darren was not involved in that one. QUICKEN Away ran a marvellous race in the Bowl and trainer Patrick Biancone now sends him for the Chairman's Prize, the sprinting trophy he has won in the past. As our Biancone reminds us, Quicken Away is getting no younger so he is being held back and only sent to suitable races. The younger Helene Star, whose five-race winning streak came to an end in the Bowl, will now take a rest. JOCKEY John Lowe did not have a lot of luck with Mellottie in the Cup yesterday, finishing seventh on the 30-1 chance. But he did have some luck in India six weeks ago - luck which enabled to compete yesterday. A regular winter visitor to the sub-continent, Lowe and his wife went to the Air India office in Bombay to change their tickets to a later date for the flight back to England. But they were just asked to come back in the afternoon. Fortunately, they waited around and were able to change them soon afterwards. In the afternoon, the Air India offices were blasted out of existence in the country's recent bombing onslaught, killing many people. ''It makes you believe in fate. If your number is up, that's it. We would have been there when the bombs went off, only we were lucky enough to get our business completed earlier,'' said Lowe. LEGENDARY Australian journalist Jack Elliott treated Sha Tin closed-circuit television watchers and listeners to a few anecdotes before the running of the seventh event yesterday. Jack, 71, who has semi-officially retired, has two ambitions left in life. He has never seen an Arc de Triomphe or a Grand National. He would like to see both, hoping obviously that the next one at Aintree will actually count. Also giving race day an international flavour was Kiwi commentator George Simkin who called the third race on the card. And Jim McGrath, who was course commentator for 13 years, was on air before the last race - which the present incumbent, Robert Geller, had hoped his predecessor might call. ''I'd love to do it the next year. It'd be just like old times,'' he said.