Cup safe as falling off a log

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There had been warnings of disaster before yesterday's Marlborough Cup, staged over American-style timber fences at Barbury Castle in Wiltshire. Yet of the dozen horses who set out, all but one completed and the single faller was unscathed. Diamond Wind, ridden by Millie Bull, claimed the £10,000 first prize, writes Greg Wood.

Timber fences are constructed from solid wooden poles and, unlike steeplechase obstacles, must be jumped cleanly or a fall is almost inevitable. A series of qualifying races for yesterday's event had been marred by several nasty spills, prompting the BBC to pull out of planned live coverage.

The cup's organisers, however, had insisted that a lack of common sense among riders, rather than any fundamental unfairness in the obstacles, was to blame, and yesterday's race seemed to back them up. The field, consisting mainly of point-to-pointers and eventers, jumped round with a mixture of care and competitiveness. Diamond Wind won by four lengths from Uriquarat (Michael Traurig).

The BBC's indifference was not mirrored by the paying public. A crowd put at over 10,000 turned up to watch and the inaugural Marlborough Cup must be judged a considerable success.